As some of you know, for the past year I’ve been working on a full-length biography of musician Elliott Smith, to be published by Bloomsbury (the publisher for my Diane Arbus book, which came out in September). So far I’ve spoken with dozens of people and conducted over 50 hours of interviews. The book is a total labor of love, I’m happy to say. My belief is that Smith was a genius songwriter and an infinitely fascinating, sympathetic person—exceptionally smart, humble, thoughtful, compassionate. The book’s focus is the music, the art; the goal is to compose an affectionate, insightful, balanced, fair account of the life, in all its wonderful complexity. To date my writing has been psychobiographical. I explore, in my other books, the subjective origins of creativity. This book is different. It is not a psychobiography. It’s straight biography, with no explicit psychological analysis (though there will be some of that, as there is in all biography). I’m excited by this shift in direction. It takes my writing down a new path, one that’s been evolving for years, I now realize. Oh, current working title: THE REFLECTED SOUND OF EVERYTHING.
Now and then I’ll post updates here as the work progresses. I don’t want to share too many details; I prefer to hold them till the book appears. Mainly I’m excited to share the news that the book is coming along well. I think it will amount to a semi-new Elliott, or at least a fuller, richer portrait than the one presently in place. I do not pretend to “know all the answers”—no one can. But I feel I have a solid sense of who Elliott was, one that grows and changes every day. Let me know if you have thoughts or questions. I’ll do my best to answer as many as I can. —Todd