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Elliott Smith Memorial Illuminated on Sunset

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The first anniversary of the deceased musician, Elliott Smith, who died of a possible suicide on October 21, 2003, was mourned by fans all weekend at an impromptu L.A. shrine located at the red, white and black, squiggly-lined wall on Sunset near Fountain in Silverlake. The wall was the background for the cover of Smith’s prior album, “Figure 8.” Immediately following his death last year, messages to Smith have been scrawled on the wall and flowers, candles, notes and artifacts have been placed on the sidewalk below.

The intervening months have seen a waning of the shrine, flowers left less frequent, but last Tuesday saw the release of Smith’s first posthumous album, “From a Basement on a Hill,” perhaps instigating further emotional gravity to a death that came hard to longtime fans of Smith’s music.

And so, all weekend, candles burned and fresh flowers rested while young men and women visited the wall, silently paying their respects to an artist who was ill equipped to remain in this world. Silverlake being the place where Smith was living before and while a knife entered his heart. Silverlake, then, an appropriate place for his persistent memorial. Silverlake, too, a perfect place to listen to Smith’s last album which is, to put it concisely, masterful and strong, but tinged with wavering futility and sadness.

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We can only hope that the artifacts left at Smith’s wall in conjunction with the musical artifact Smith left behind can serve as a palliative to whatever it was in Smith (if we’re to assume he killed himself) that caused him to extricate himself from the world of the living. Though, of course, it wasn’t a complete exeunt because for many, from the mourners to the listeners, Smith’s artistic essence still reverberates in their ears and hearts.