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Video Rewind: Elliott Smith’s 1998 interview with MTV

on October 25, 2013, 3:15pm


Welcome to our weekly feature Video Rewind. Every Friday, a CoS staffer shares a beloved video clip dug up from the depths of the Internet. Consider it a quick jaunt down memory lane via moving pictures. Earlier this week marked the 10th anniversary of Elliott Smith’s passing with a list of his best songs. Now, we look back at the time he went one-on-one with MTV’s Carson Daly.

Elliott Smith was the most unlikely and reluctant of rock stars, so the sight of him mixing it up on MTV with Carson Daly in 1998 still feels like some sort of odd indie rock fever dream. But for fans, it’s also a somber reminder of the gentle, genuine artistic spirit that’s gone missing over the past decade.

Smith was hitting the peak of his mainstream powers in 1998 on the strength of his Oscar-nominated work on the Good Will Hunting Soundtrack, enough so for MTV to afford him some well-deserved face time. Daly seems to struggle some to establish common ground with the singer, but Smith shouldered his evident discomfort with a smile. His delicate, thoughtful demeanor here goes a long way toward explaining the warm yet wounded introspection of his music. But his coy nature also starkly contrasted the dark days that were waiting ahead. Watching him here, it’s still shocking to think just how far he fell when drugs, booze and psychosis tragically caught up with him in 2003.

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