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December 20 , 2009

Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing


Best for his Oscar-nominated song "Miss Misery" from the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, Elliott Smith was catapulted to the status of indie rock star after performing at the 1997 Academy Awards. Some of his albums, XO and Either/Or among them, would become '90s classics, helping to define an understated aesthetic that owed as much to the melodic emphasis of The Beatles as it did to punk. In the afterglow of the success of "Miss Misery," Smith's fame grew-alongside his struggles with depression and substance abuse. First relocating to Brooklyn, and then finally to L.A., he fell into a downward spiral evident to friends and fans alike, even as he continued to write such beautifully realized songs as "Waltz #2 (XO)." Drawing on new interviews with those who knew and loved Smith, and focusing on the crucial interplay between Smith's life and music, Ben Nugent compellingly and sympathetically portrays an enormously gifted, yet troubled, artist.

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