Elliott Smith was one of the most gifted songwriters of the nineties, adored by worshipful fans for his subtly melancholic words and melodies. The sadness had its sources in the life. There was trauma from an early age, years of drug abuse and a chronic sense of disconnection that sometimes seemed almost self-engineered. Smith died violently in Los Angeles in 2003, under what some believe to be questionable circumstances, of a single fatal stab wound to the chest. By this time fame had found him, and record buyers who shared the listening experience felt he spoke directly to them from beyond: lonely, lovelorn, frustrated, fighting until he could fight no more. And yet, although his achingly intimate lyrics carried the weight of truth, Smith remained unknowable. In Torment Saint, William Todd Schultz gives us the first proper biography of the rock star, a decade after his death, imbued with affection, authority, sensitivity and long-awaited clarity.
Torment Saint draws on Schultz's careful, deeply knowledgeable readings and insights, as well as on more than 150 hours of interviews with close friends, lovers, bandmates, peers, managers, label owners, and recording engineers and producers. This book unravels the remaining mysteries of Smith's life and his shocking, too-early end. It will be an indispensable examination of his life and legacy, both for Smith's legions of fans as well as readers still discovering his songbook.