Torment Saint: The Life of Elliott Smith - William Todd Schultz

Let me preface this review by saying I'm a huge fan and Elliott Smith's death was as big a deal for me as John Lennon's was when I was a teen-ager.  There were points after he died that my husband and I listened to nothing but Elliott constantly for weeks.  We have more Elliott on our computer than any other artist--live shows and alternative versions of songs--we searched out everything we could find.  He was a lifeline during some of the most difficult periods in our lives.  I would listen to certain songs on my walk-man and sometimes they were the only things getting me through the day.



I have both Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing by Benjamin Nugent and Elliott Smith by Autumn de Wilde (of course!) and while some people are not happy with this book after what was a very slow first third and an overuse of quotes from the songs I have to say I thought it was extremely well done. 


I know lots of people like to think they could have been the one to save him-to help him overcome that darkness and depression he had inside. But there is a very telling moment very late in the book where Elliott had take 22 klonopin and was just kinda like let's just wait and see, instead of calling 911.  Jennifer Chiba, his girlfriend, ended up calling his sister Ashley who drove Elliott around for hours to stop him from getting behind the wheel, until he had calmed down.  But Jennifer wondered how much more she could deal with someone who talked about suicide daily. "Like the boy who cried wolf," Chiba says,"it was almost a joke."  As someone who lives with a depressed person who exhibits similar symptoms I can understand her fatigue.


We were extremely lucky to experience these beautiful songs and I'm heartbroken that Elliott had so much sorrow in his life but I think he must have had moments of joy or he wouldn't have been able to craft these songs.  More than anything I'm grateful for the days I needed him and he was there.