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XO (Anglais) Broché – 1 janvier 1980

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Présentation de l'éditeur

Many albums could be cited to support the claim that great suffering yields great art. Elliott Smith's XO should not be one of them. Smith's 1998 major label debut defies the 'tortured singer-songwriter' stereotype, and takes up this defiance as a central theme. At a time when Smith was being groomed for a particular (and particularly condescending) brand of stardom, he produced a record that eviscerated one of the central assumptions of singersongwriterdom: that pain is beautiful. XO insists that romanticizing personal tragedy can only leave you 'deaf and dumb and done.' And it backs up this claim with some of the most artful and intelligent music of its day. Matthew LeMay writes an original take on a widely beloved album, steering clear of the sensationalist suicide angles that have dogged most analysis of Elliott Smith's extraordinary work.

Biographie de l'auteur

Matthew LeMay has been a staff writer at Pitchfork Media since 2000. His band, Get Him Eat Him, will release their second album in the summer of 2007. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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70 internautes sur 70 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
This Book Was Done Properly! 6 avril 2009
Par Larry Crane - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I was allowed to fact check and was interviewed for this book and I feel it's one of the better things to come out about my friend. The second half, examining Elliott's portrayal in the media, is a great "setting the record straight" for this amazing artist.
-Larry Crane, Archivist for the Estate of Elliott Smith/recording engineer/producer
14 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Changed the way I listen to XO/Elliott Smith! 13 avril 2009
Par Jason Li - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
XO is one of my favorite albums, and after reading this book, I am able to appreciate it in a new, deeper and more nuanced way. Lemay strategically employs Smith's own words, whether it be in an interview or in his lyrics, to steer us to an interpretation of XO that seems closer to what Smith had originally intended. (Larry Crane's review above affirms this idea.)

The book is split into two parts: Part one is a guided tour of the subtleties buried within XO (both lyrical and musical). Part two is about why we, as listeners, should free ourselves from the romanticized yet simplistic image of Smith painted by the popular press.

Both parts are extremely well researched and it shows: Lemay has amassed and analyzed quite a back catalog of Elliott Smith demos, live shows, interviews, reviews, on top of having conducted his own interviews with Smith's friends/collaborators.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wishes to enjoy this album more, and to understand Elliott Smith as a human being who is more than just a "sad guy singing sad songs."
15 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
i so badly wanted to like this book.. 10 février 2010
Par Brandon Vosika - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
First off, let me say that i am a huge fan of all Elliott Smith's albums. And usually i really enjoy the 33 1/3 line of books.

So naturally, i thought i was going to really enjoy reading this book. I'm very sad to say though, that i didn't.

In comparison to other books of 33 1/3 that i have read, there is VERY little interview/ fact based stuff in this book. and very little about the process of writing or recording XO. it really is mostly what the author thinks about the album and everything else. his opinion.

What this book is made up of, essentially, is a bit on Elliott Smith around the time the XO was made, a lot on what the author thinks Smith's lyrics 'mean' and then some on how he first heard of Smith, how Smith's music effected his life.. things like that.

Being a musician and writer myself, i'm just so damn tired of people taking lyrics and breaking them down. down. down again. - analyzing everything. it might be hard for some people to believe but sometimes the words
musicians sing aren't a cryptic code that needs to be cracked.

I'm surly not saying that Simth's lyrics aren't amazing because i think that they are. and they deserve to be heard and felt. But what i am saying is that i did not enjoy reading page after page of a random guy picking apart, quite literally, every single lyric on the XO album (including the B-side songs).
This author has had no connection to Smith. he talks in the book about not even really liking Elliott Smith or XO until about 2006. i can't help ask myself the question, 'why is he writing this book?'
Some of what he said i agreed with, some i didn't. some of what he said was obvious, some was vague. it was just kind of boring. But more so, it felt a bit pointless to read this book.

Listen to XO yourself, see what YOU think about what Smith is saying and singing. How does it make YOU feel?
thats what should matter.

It makes me feel really sad to say it but,
i just don't feel that anyone who has thoughts of their own about the album XO needs to own this book.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Carried away 29 janvier 2014
Par Sam Quixote - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Elliott Smith was a musician and songwriter everyone who loves music should listen to. If you’ve never heard his music before, rather than recommend entire albums, have a listen to the following songs: “Miss Misery”, “Say Yes”, “I Figured You Out”, “Needle in the Hay”, “Between the Bars” and “Angeles” – incredible, right? And if you’re already familiar with his music, you’ll know how unique he was as a talent. Unfortunately Smith killed himself in 2003 at the age of 34 after a lifetime of depression and numerous problems with addiction. His legacy of music will live on forever though, especially his 1998 album, XO.

Rather than focus on the gossipy side of Smith’s life like his drug/alcohol problems and his preoccupation with suicide, Matthew LeMay has chosen, very commendably, to focus on the art itself. Addiction in itself isn’t that interesting, especially in comparison to great art, and Smith himself wasn’t interested in expressing it in his music, looking upon the kind of self-pitying naval-gazing such song-writing celebrates as repulsively shallow.

This is the third 33 1/3 book I’ve read, the series which looks at and discusses seminal albums in bite-sized, dinky paperbacks. In The Pixies’ Doolittle, we see one of the most influential rock bands ever creating their best album and catch up with the band 20+ years later to discuss what the album meant and means to them. In The Beatles’ Let It be, we see the greatest band of all time in their last days but still producing amazing music, with that entire time period providing a fascinating story filled with many strong characters.

XO has no such compelling story. Smith was out of rehab (not for the last time) and was clean, throwing himself into his work, producing some of the finest music of his life. The recording went smoothly and everyone involved recollects their time in the studio fondly. And that’s it. Because of LeMay’s refusal to discuss Smith’s private life, most of the book focuses on his interpretations of the songs on the album, writing about them track by track, sprinkling them with details of Smith’s creative process and some technical details but essentially giving us his version of what each song is about and what they mean. Unfortunately, it’s not that gripping to read.

The book does highlight Smith’s talent as a lyricist, allowing for multiple interpretations and giving LeMay plenty of fodder to discuss the poetry of his words at length. And it is poetry, those lyrics are so unlike any you come across in any genre of songwriting - you can appreciate his work minus the music, just by reading the lyrics they’re that good. It also shows how much Smith cared about his art, spending years crafting songs, tweaking them year after year before committing them to record.

It was fascinating to see how “Waltz #2”, arguably XO’s best song, went from being a seemingly autobiographical story about his parents to a story that could be about anyone with some interesting dramatic characters. Conversely, it informed me how some songs on the record were written on the fly, with a song like Pitseleh being knocked out more or less in the studio. Pitseleh in particular is a song I’ve never really liked and the haste in which it was assembled partly explains my reaction to it as I feel it wasn’t as accomplished as other songs on the album. Smith also never played it live, probably believing it was unfinished or too incomplete a song and embarrassed to remind himself of it.

More than anything though is that the book emphasises how generally upbeat Smith’s music is, despite the tone of many songs. His whispered, seemingly personal lyrics about despondent characters, drug imagery, and assorted other connotations that most would interpret as the hallmarks of the depressed artist producing depressing work, are all misleading. Many of his songs aren’t necessarily uplifting but aren’t nearly as sad as some would say. LeMay tries to remove the shadow of Smith’s suicide from the music itself, saying that whatever Smith’s personal problems were, he consciously left them out of his work, and I think that’s a very true statement. There’s the art and then there’s the artist.

If you’re looking for a book full of stories of drug hazes and fights, you won’t find it here – instead you’ll find a thoughtful, though very dry, study of Smith’s album XO. While it’s not the most fascinating read, it underlines something about Smith I didn’t realise until I read this and that is that a satisfying, warts’n’all bio about him is likely to never appear. Partly because his family and friends won’t speak about him to anyone, but because, as LeMay asserts throughout, the most interesting thing about Elliott Smith by far was his music - nothing in his life quite compared to his art. So if you want to find out the kind of man he was, listen to XO, and Either/Or, and From A Basement On A Hill, or any of his albums – everything he was is in his songs, never to be caught in the pages of a book.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Not Very Insightful 27 décembre 2010
Par Nathan Cole - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I am a long-time Elliott Smith fan and was looking forward to a peek into how this great album came into existence. What I got however, was a song-by-song overview comprised of the author's interpretations of the lyrics. This would have been less problematic if the end result didn't come across so much like a college freshman trying to meet a length requirement for an essay, not to mention the fact that the late Smith's lyrics do a very good job speaking for themselves.

There are some nice quotes from Larry Crane and other outside interviews and I enjoyed the time taken to track the evolution of certain lyrics, but overall I came away feeling I know very little about the process of making the record, which is a shame.
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