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