Either/Or, Elliott Smith

How well does this album hold up by today’s standards?

Either/Or, Elliott Smith

Alex De La Garza, Staff Writer

 Either/Or was the album that launched Elliott Smith into fame, after most of his songs were featured in the 1997 film Good Will Hunting. The one he wrote especially for the film was “Miss Misery”, but six of his other songs were also on the movie’s soundtrack. “Miss Misery” was also nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category in 1998

Elliott Smith was born Steven Paul Smith in Omaha, Nebraska in 1969. He was in another band called Heatmiser, before he began his solo career. Smith tragically passed away in 2003 under mysterious circumstances, but he left behind some really terrific music, especially the album Either/Or.

Either/Or is an album I’d listen to in the middle of the night or on a cold autumn day, because this album gives you a specific feeling. All of Smith’s other albums give you a different feeling, as well. The album Figure 8, for example, gives some people a dreamy, hopeful vibe, while other albums not so much, like his self-titled release from 1995

Either/Or is an album that focuses heavily on Smith’s guitar playing and consists of some drums throughout only some of the songs. The best songs on the album  all have a riff, or a certain part of the song, that stands out, and it makes it such an enjoyable song to listen to on repeat. 

But the best song off this album is “Say Yes” because his vocals, the guitar intro and the way the song ends are all extremely effective. This song is about going through a breakup. Listening to this song has such a heavy impact on the way you view others and how you view life sometimes as well. His heavy vocals toward the beginning of the song show him having a hard time, but as the song ends, he comes out to be a better person and has a better self image of himself. 

“Ballad of Big Nothing” is also another solid track that talks about Elliott’s drug addiction and how other people got tired of his antics. This song has also helped some people I know get over their drug addiction and this song has helped them.

“Alameda” is another great song that reveals more of Smith’s past, and we get to see how letting people get too close to him ended up being bad for him and others. This is expressed in the lyrics, such as, “For your own protection over their affection. Nobody broke your heart. You broke your own, ‘cause you can’t finish what you start.” This song takes another dive into Elliott’s past as a person and how he has struggled in love. 

Overall this album and its songs place a heavy emphasis on Smith’s past. I love how he has implemented this through the use of lyrics and certain street names, and it shows how he has grown as a person overall. This album has helped me, and other people that I know, to get through certain hardships, and that’s why it’s the greatest album he’s released. All the songs are so serene, and it’s all so extremely well-written. 

This album helped Elliott Smith’s career blast off, because he received nationwide attention and it helped him make more music. And if you like Elliott Smith, then you should also check out the bands Weatherday and The Microphones.