Things You Might Not Know About the New Elliott Smith Leaks
So, late last week, four more unreleased Elliott Smith songs turned up on the Basement Demos page of www.elliottsmithbsides.com, labeled as so; “True Love,” “From a Poisoned Well,” “Let’s Turn the Record Over” and “Talking to Mary.” It should be noted that when Elliott Smith B-Sides’ site runner received these tracks, they were not labeled and the anonymous leaker did not provide song titles.
Blogs went abuzz straight away, and even Rolling Stone and Pitchfork caught on, but there’s a lot of misinformation floating around. So we’re going to tell you absolutely everything you need to know about these tracks.
First of all, we have discussed the track referred to as “From a Poisoned Well” here before. Elliott performed it live only once as “First Timer” before he updated the lyrics and recorded a more rock-oriented version. It was David McConnell who first mentioned to the unreleased track in an interview with MTV. However, despite the way he referred to it, the title is actually “From a Poison Well,” as it is sung in the song.
“True Love” was the holy grail of unreleased Elliott songs up until this point. I remember being the first person on the Sweetaddy message board to point out its surprising omission when the From a Basement on the Hill tracklist was first announced. As it turns out, those who were working on the release (Rob Schnapf and Joanna Bolme) were not able to find the finished vocal track until just soon after the Basement deadline had passed, and the family has since been unable to convince Interscope to release the song in any form.
Reportedly, this version of “True Love” is the one that Elliott recorded with Jon Brion, and given the rough mix and inconsistent lyrics of the vocal tracks on this recording, this leads us to believe that this is not the final version of “True Love” as it was completed by Rob and Joanna.
(UPDATE: Less than twenty-four hours after this article was posted, the final version of True Love leaked.)
“Let’s Turn the Record Over” had been the subject of much speculation since it was once referenced on Sweetaddy as an original song that was near completion at the time of Elliott’s passing. At the time before this leak, it was the only remaining Elliott Smith composition that fans were aware of but had not heard in any form. After the leak, one person on Sweetaddy revealed that “Let’s Turn the Record Over” has also been referred to as “Bonnie Brae.” It is unclear for now which is the final confirmed title.
Lastly, there is “Talking to Mary” which, despite being included among the Basement Demos, was not recorded during Elliott’s Basement sessions. Live performances of the song date back to 1995 when fans first began recording Elliott's shows. As you can hear on the studio track, once it ends, the first note of “Riot Coming,” also an Elliott rarity from around the era of the self-titled album, begins to play right before the track is cut off. It is possible, though there has never been any evidence or confirmation, that Elliott may have considered using this newly leaked track on From a Basement on the Hill, but it's clear that “Talking to Mary” is one of Elliott’s earliest recorded rarities.
There’s still plenty of Elliott Smith recordings that we have yet to hear, and that we hope to hear in the form of official releases rather than the result of further internet leaks. Kill Rock Stars, who released Elliott's self-titled album as well as Either/Or, is taking the cue by planning a Spring 2007 release of rarities that Elliott recorded in his years with that label. However, the bulk of his material recorded after that time is owned by Interscope, who have yet to publicly announce their intention for any further Elliott Smith releases.
We hope that Interscope will move forward with a release soon, because we are all eager to purchase a release that gathers the completed versions of songs like “True Love,” “Dancing on the Highway,” and “Stickman.” There’s still so many recordings from his last years that we have yet to hear, and we look forward to the opportunity to own them all.
Finally, for all you loyal CTC readers, here's an exclusively edited version of one of the newly leaked tracks...
MP3: Elliott Smith - Let's Turn the Record Over