The earliest known live recording of Elliott Smith performing “Some Song” has been released via Kill All Rock Stars. This version of the song will be featured on the previously unreleased live album titled Live at Umbra Penumbra, which accompanies the 25th expanded anniversary edition of his sophomore self-titled album.
Live at Umbra Penumbra was recorded on September 17 1994 at the cafe of its namesake in Portland, Oregon and was produced and engineered by Larry Crane, the official archivist of Smith’s family. The track itself originally appeared on the “Needle in the Hay” seven-inch single back in 1995, with Needle in the Hay” eventually serving as the first track for his self-titled album. Smith opens up the live recording saying he’s “got a rock song I’d like to play” before going into the track which features his signature interpersonal songwriting and angst ridden choruses.
Smith began his career as the frontman for the Portland rock outfit Heatmiser, before eschewing the rock format and embarking on his solo career. Smith’s early work was largely acoustic, branded as “lo fi folk,” which would go on to inspire many other artists in the burgeoning indie scene of the late 1990s and early 2000s, however his style remained distinct due to his unique voice and clever use of multi tracking vocals and instrumentals.
The artist launched into mainstream success thanks to his hit single “Miss Misery” back in 1997, which was included in the soundtrack for the popular film Good Will Hunting. This success eventually became difficult for Smith to handle as he began to struggle with his mental health and substance abuse, before eventually succumbing to his early death in 2003 at the age of 34.
While Either/Or has become synonymous with Smith’s legacy due to its unique production, personal lyricism and instrumental melodies, his follow-up projects XO and Figure 8 built upon his sound with a more refined touch. Both of those projects were also re-released last year in honor of the performer’s would be 50th birthday.