Elliott Smith Goes Indie

New album to be released on label of his choice

January 3, 2002 12:00 AM ET

For his forthcoming follow-up to 2000's Figure 8, noted singer-songwriter and former Oscar nominee Elliott Smith will return to the underground well from which he sprang. In an unorthodox move, Smith's label, Dreamworks, has agreed to allow him to release the tentatively titled titled From the Basement on the Hill via the independent imprint of his choice. Smith hasn't yet chosen a label, but he hopes the album will be on shelves this spring.

Smith's management says the decision to seek an alternate home for his sixth album reflects his present disillusionment with the state of majors in general, not just Dreamworks, which he's called home since 1998. (Smith himself refused comment for this piece.) Before Dreamworks, Smith recorded for indies Kill Rock Stars and Cavity Search. While certain high-profile acts, most notably Beck, occasionally ink contracts allowing for indie one-offs, Smith's agreement with Dreamworks was exclusive. At the conclusion of the cycle for his next album, Smith is expected to return to the major.

Smith is recording From the Basement on the Hill in Los Angeles on his own dime. He's already asked the Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd and Beachwood Sparks' Aaron Sperske to guest on a few songs. Producer/engineer David McConnell (the Call, Andy Prieboy) is contributing to the sessions, which would explain Smith's guest spot on Blue Swan Orchestra, the forthcoming debut disc from McConnell's own Goldenboy (on which frequent Smith sideman Shon Sullivan also sings and plays guitar).

Among the songs expected to make Smith's new album are "Shooting Star" and "Little One," which the singer road-tested during his recent West Coast shows. In February, Smith will perform at London's Royal Festival Hall as part of MOJO magazine's 100th issue celebration.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

More Song Stories entries »