Today's Candy: Elliott Smith 'Miss Misery'

by Jess Grant | 9/11/12

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I know of all the Elliott Smith songs I could have chosen to feature, this is the most cliché, but bare with me, bro. As when you stop and think about what this song achieved for both Smith and indie music as a whole, it is really, rather breathtaking...

Miss Misery” featured during the closing credits of Good Will Hunting, earning it a nomination for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in 1998. And although the diffident acoustic ditty lost out to Celine Dion's cornball epic, "My Heart Will Go On,” it was still awesome that Smith was recognised in the first place. (Plus, when Madonna announced that Dion had won, she sounded super pissed, sarcastically adding “What a shocker.” It was later revealed MDNA had wanted Smith to win the award all along.)

After much pleading on the producer's part, Smith agreed to perform “Miss Misery” at the Oscars that year. Smith later described the experience as “surreal,” adding: “I walked out and Jack Nicholson was sitting about six feet away, so I avoided that area and I looked up at the balcony in the back and sang the song.”

Check out Smith performing “Miss Misery” at the 1998 Academy Awards, below. Remember, he was not only performing to a room full of fucking film stars, but to millions of viewers around the world, too. It has to be one of the most surreal/stupendous moments in indie music history (even if he does look like a lost little flower <3).

Here is the song's official video, starring that same dapper white suit.

How about an alternate take of “Miss Misery,” as lifted from the posthumous album, New Moon?

And, finally, for all you hipsters seeking something a little less commercial, here is another favorite New Moon cut of mine, “Placeholder.”

 

Lyrics to “Miss Misery”:

I'll fake it through the day
With some help from johnny walker red
Send the poison rain down the drain
To put bad thoughts in my head

Your two tickets torn in half
And a lot of nothing to do
Do you miss me, miss misery
Like you say you do?

A man in the park
Read the lines in my hand
Told me I'm strong
Hardly ever wrong I said man you mean

You had plans for both of us
That involved a trip out of town
To a place I've seen in a magazine
That you left lying around

I don't have you with me but
I keep a good attitude
Do you miss me, miss misery
Like you say you do?

I know you'd rather see me gone
Than to see me the way that I am
But I am in the life anyway
Next door the TV's flashing

Blue frames on the wall
It's a comedy of errors, you see
It's about taking a fall
To vanish into oblivion

Is easy to do
And I try to be but you know me
I come back when you want me to
Do you miss me miss misery

Like you say you do?

Lyrics to “Placeholder”:

Looking at all the rows
All these records look like big zeros
Got your picture on the back of a forty-five
A placeholder till you take up mine
A placeholder till you take up mine

I'm the person you'll never need
The biggest loser on sixteenth street
The invisible man with the see-through mind
A placeholder till you take up mine
A placeholder till you take up mine

Break off of in someone's laughter
You can tell right there
He's still a square
He likes the way that you look now
Like an open book

Just like my favourite song
Some pretty words that didn't last that long
Like a package sent priority overnight
Placeholder come and take up mine
Placeholder come and take up mine
Placeholder come and take up mine
Placeholder come and take up mine

 

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