Saturday, July 26, 2014

roman candle

Elliott Smith whispered his head full of flames into no name homemade heartsongs and found his voice with this accidental achievement.  Smith had formed Stranger Than Fiction with Garrick Duckler while in high school in Texas; and then Heatmiser with Neil Gust while a student at Hampshire College before moving to Portland, Oregon where they were signed to local Cavity Search Records by Denny Swofford.  As the band was building an audience, Smith began recording the demos that became 'Roman Candle' at the home of his manager and girlfriend JJ Gonson on microphones from Radio Shack and a four track recorder.  Smith played all of the instruments save for some snare and cymbal provided by Kid Tulsa on a couple of songs.  

The demo tape got passed around and eventually Swofford made a deal to release the recordings as an album.  The lo-fi acoustic sound of the album was a departure from the grunge sound of Heatmiser; but the songs were a revelation.  Smith would reveal:   "I just wanted to move out of Portland to do something...I was also doing odd jobs around Portland, like spreading gravel and transplanting bamboo trees...My girlfriend at the time convinced me to send these songs to Cavity Search. When they wanted to put out my record I was totally shocked...People just have a way of - y'know they'll review your record in two sentences and put you in this little stupid box that you don't want to be in...If you play acoustic guitar you're the depressed, sensitive guy...I'm just writing songs about how I feel or about how people I know feel."

"Roman Candle"  

He played himself
Didn't need me to give him hell
He could be cool and cruel to you and me
Knew we'd put up with anything

I want to hurt him

I want to give him pain
I'm a roman candle
My head is full of flames

I'm hallucinating

I hear you cry
Your tears are cheap
Wet hot red swollen cheeks

Fall asleep

I want to hurt him
I want to give him pain
I'm a roman candle

My head is full of flames

I want to hurt him
I want to hurt him
I want to hurt him

I want to give him pain

And make him feel this pretty burn

"Condor Ave."  

"Last Call" 

'Roman Candle'
full album:

All songs written and composed by Elliott Smith, except "No Name #1", written by Smith and J.J. Gonson. 

1. "Roman Candle"   3:37
2. "Condor Ave."   3:34
3. "No Name #1"   3:03
4. "No Name #2"   3:34
5. "No Name #3"   3:13
6. "Drive All Over Town"   2:36
7. "No Name #4"   2:30
8. "Last Call"   4:38
9. "Kiwi Maddog 20/20"   3:40

original photo taken by JJ Gonson 

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