#519 ‘Son of Sam’ by Elliot Smith (8 Nov)

Album: Figure 8, 2000

Justification: At the time this album was released I felt like getting into Elliot Smith was kind of a cliché. He was the archetype of the sensitive singer-songwriter that equally sensitive men were into, and I was already rocking a whole lot of that (Joe Pernice before and Smog, Goldenboy and Sparklehorse after). And then, of course, there was his suicide in 2003 which cast a pall over everything he did, reminding us – as with Mark Linkous not quite a decade later – that sometimes searching for something in the darkness just means finding more darkness.

‘Son of Sam’ isn’t, supposedly, about the titular killer (David Berkowitz, depending on whether you subscribe to police investigations or internet conspiracy theories) but a jaunty little ode to mental instability generally. And the video is based on the 1956 French featurette The Red Balloon, although I still always think of the Mr Show sketch when I see it. YouTube it. Go on.

Anyway, enough time has passed that I can accept that this is a hell of a song, and only feel a little bit like the abyss is calling when I hear it.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: PiL were insisting that ‘This Is Not A Love Song’.


514. Cibo Matto: Sugar Water (14 Sep)

515: Jonathan Richman: Since She Started To Ride (24 Sep)

516: Sandie Shaw & the Smiths: Hand in Glove (2 Oct)

517. The Fauves: Self Abuser (8 Oct)

518. Beastie Boys: Hey Ladies (26 Oct)