"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Let’s say that you live in a city. Let’s say that your city is still trying to pull itself out of the rubble of a disaster that nearly literally wiped it off the face of the earth. Let’s say that your city’s economy and culture depend in large part on a large body of water nearby. Let’s say that BP has an epic fail just around the way and springs an oil leak so big you can see it from space. What would you and your neighbors do?
Probably whatever you would do, unless you live in New Orleans, would not be nearly as awesome as what someone at a neighborhood grocery store called the Breaux Mart did: make a cake for the BP oil leak.
People wag their fingers at Louisianans for their cliché of laissez les bons temps rouler — letting the good times roll. “Those people are never serious,” they say. And hey, I’d be pissed off too if I were in a car on a street that suddenly just got blocked for 20 minutes while a second line showed up and a dance party suddenly broke out. I’d be pissed, that is, if I wasn’t in the dance party, which I was.
So those people are missing the point. It’s a place where the culture matters as much as the facts. It’s a place where food matters so much that a grocery bakery can be a place of protest. It’s a place where wit triumphs over invective. But whatever. My point now isn’t to yap about the culture of New Orleans — it’s to share a slice of this genius cake, courtesy of Flickr user Skooksie.
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)