Elliott Smith's Music At The Movies

Written by | May 14, 2013 0:05 am | No Comments

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I said reluctantly, because Elliott didn’t want to go to the ceremony, as he explained in an interview with Under The Radar in 2003:

‘I didn’t intend to play it, but then they said that if I didn’t play it, they would get someone else to play the song. So for all the songwriters who don’t want to perform their songs, they’d get someone like Richard Marx to do it. I think when they said that they had done their homework on me a little bit. Or maybe Richard Marx is a universal scare tactic.’

So he did go to the Oscars, sang his song and everybody will remember seeing him holding hands with Celine Dion – who won the award for her Titanic song of course! – and feeling totally uncomfortable as he explained in the same interview:

‘It was kind of ridiculous. But at a certain point I threw myself into it because it seemed to make my friends happy. You know, all of my friends were like, ‘One of us is on the moon!’ When really I was on this ridiculous awards show playing this song. It was a little weird. I walked out and Jack Nicholson was sitting about six feet away, so I avoided that area and I looked up at the balcony in the back and sang the song. It was surreal enough that it didn’t seem like it happened to me.’

Because the movie was a commercial and critical success, Gus Van Sant put Elliott’s music in the spotlight, by using several of his songs in the soundtrack. If ‘Miss Misery’ was a new one specially written and recorded for the movie, three previously released tracks ‘No Name #3’ from ‘Roman Candle’, ‘Angeles’ and ‘Say Yes’ from ‘Either/Or’ were also used. Curiously, Gus Van Sant used again ‘Angeles’, as well as ‘The White Lady Loves You More’ in his 2007 skateboard movie ‘Paranoid Park’.

Probably, the two other well-known examples of Elliott Smith’s musical presence in movies are his eerie version of the Beatles’ ‘Because’ for the 1999 Sam Mendes-Alan Ball drama ‘American Beauty’, and the chilly use of his song ‘Needle In the Hay’ during the suicide scene of Wes Anderson’s ‘The Royal Tenebaums’, just 2 years before his mysterious death. During his last months, Elliott was working with director Mike Mills and he was supposed to write all the songs for Mills’ movie ‘Thumbsucker’. The Polyphonic Spree ended up completing the musical score after Elliott’s death, but one Elliott Smith’s song (‘Let’s Get Lost’) as well as two songs he often covered live (Cat Stevens’ ‘Trouble’, and Big Star’s ‘Thirteen’) were used in the 2005 release.

Amazingly, ‘Say Yes’ is also used in the 2009 ‘American Pie Presents: The Book of Love’, ‘Angel in the Snow’ in the 2009 George Clooney movie ‘Up in the Air’, ‘Angeles’ in the 2004 teenager drama ‘The Girl Next Door’, and ‘Pitseleh’ in the Ben Stiller-Edward Norton‘s 2000 comedy ‘Keeping the Faith’.

There is also an astonishing long list of short movies and TV series that have used one of his songs, and there are actually a lot of them I have never seen! But among the TV series, I have just noticed two of them concerning crime investigations… Were the producers/directors of the series trying to convey us a message? May be! Think about it, ‘Clementine’ was used in a 2006 episode of ‘Criminal Minds’ and ‘Waltz #2 in a 2005 episode of ‘Cold Case’!

Here is the full list according to IMDB:

2010 Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball (video) (writer: ‘Between The Bars’ / as Steven Smith)

2009 American Pie Presents: The Book of Love (video) (writer: ‘Say Yes’ / performer: ‘Say Yes’)

2009 Up in the Air (writer: ‘Angel in the Snow’ 1995 / performer: ‘Angel in the Snow’ 1995)

2009 Guitar Hero 5 (Video Game) (‘L.A.’)

2009 Private Practice (TV series)

Yours, Mine & Ours (2009) (writer: ‘Angeles’ / performer: ‘Angeles’)

2009 Last Flowers (short) (writer: ‘Happiness’ / performer: ‘Happiness’)

2009 Une Vignette de Mélancolie (short) (writer: ‘A Distorted Reality is Now a Necessity to Be Free’)

2008 Banda sonora (TV series)

Episode #4.7 (2008) (writer: ‘Between the Bars’ / performer: ‘Between the Bars’)

2007 Gossip Girl (TV series)

Victor/Victrola (2007) (performer: ‘Whatever Folk Song in C’)

2007 Paranoid Park (writer: ‘Angeles’, ‘The White Lady Loves You More’ / performer: ‘Angeles’, ‘The White Lady Loves You More’)

2007 Georgia Rule (writer: ‘I Don’t Think I’m Ever Gonna Figure It Out’ / performer: ‘I Don’t Think I’m Ever Gonna Figure It Out’)

2007 The Go-Getter (writer: ‘Coast To Coast’ / performer: ‘Coast To Coast’)

2006 The Austrian Method (writer: ‘Tomorrow, Tomorrow’ / performer: ‘Tomorrow, Tomorrow’)

 2006 Criminal Minds (TV series)

Aftermath (2006) (‘Clementine’)

2006 The Eight (TV series)

Matisse’s Moroccans (2006) (writer: ‘Pretty Mary K’ – uncredited / performer: ‘Pretty Mary K’ – uncredited)

2005 Cold Case (TV series)

Revenge (2005) (performer: ‘Waltz #2’)

2005 The O.C. (TV series)

The Accomplice (2005) (performer: ‘Pretty Ugly Before’)

The Family Ties (2005) (performer: ‘Twilight’)

2005 Thumbsucker (writer: ‘Let’s Get Lost’ / performer: ‘Trouble’, ‘Let’s Get Lost’, ‘Thirteen’ 1972)

2004 The Girl Next Door (writer: ‘ANGELES’ / performer: ‘ANGELES’)

2003 One Tree Hill (TV series)

Life in a Glass House (2003) (writer: ‘Say Yes’ – uncredited)

2003 Ora o mai più (performer: ‘Say Yes’)

2001 The Royal Tenenbaums (writer: ‘Needle In The Hay’ / performer: ‘Needle In The Hay’)

2001 The Martins (writer: ‘Home on the Range’)

2001 Antitrust (writer: ‘Son Of Sam’ / performer: ‘Son Of Sam’)

2000 Opposite Sex (TV series)

The Virgin Episode (2000) (performer: ‘Biggest Lie’)

Pilot (2000) (performer: ‘Say Yes’)

2000 Keeping the Faith (writer: ‘Pitseleh’ / performer: ‘Pitseleh’)

1999 American Beauty (performer: ‘Because’)

1998 The 70th Annual Academy Awards (TV special) (writer: ‘Miss Misery’ / performer: ‘Miss Misery’)

1998 Zero Effect (writer: ‘Rest My Head Against the Wall’)

1997 Good Will Hunting (writer: ‘No Name #3’, ‘Say Yes’, ‘Between the Bars’, ‘Angeles’, ‘Miss Misery’ / performer: ‘No Name #3’, ‘Say Yes’, ‘Between the Bars’, ‘Angeles’, ‘Miss Misery’)

1997 The Maker (writer: ‘Ballad of Big Nothing’, ‘Cupid’s Trick’/ performer: ‘Ballad of Big Nothing’, ‘Cupid’s Trick’)

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