Heaven Adores You

Monthly recommendation #1. The documentary film Heaven Adores You about musician Elliott Smith.

If you’ve been here before you might well know that I am a bit of a fan of Elliott Smith. Just over 2 years ago I wrote a long and winding blog about… maybe more the enigma than the man. This documentary goes some way, I reckon, to dispersing the enigma. And for a fan it is utterly fascinating.

Fascinating because he seems like such an ordinary guy! I’d assumed that he was constantly depressed to the point of not being able to function. ‘Because my feelings never change a bit / I always feel like shit / I don’t know why, I guess that I / just do…’ But no, it seems he was interested in sadness, and addiction, before they actually began to overwhelm him in his life.

Although… I do slightly get the feeling that the documentary is maybe giving the story a bit of an optimistic spin. I can absolutely see why they might want to avoid the whole exploitative tabloid angle on the end of his life, but I also wonder whether there is an element of denial going on. When someone is privately suffering from depression, their friends and family will often insist that, because they seemed perfectly capable on the surface, it can’t really have been that bad.

Then again, this (animated!) video interview of Elliott Smith does seem to lend weight to the tone of Heaven Adores You. After all, he says, sometimes he’s happy, sometimes he’s not, but a song can be sad and still beautiful.

Current favourite thing:

Turns out, when he played the Oscars for the Good Will Hunting song, it’s a myth that he was disgusted and embarrassed by the whole process: he loved every minute of it!


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