Elliott Smith – Waltz #2 (90s – 44)

May 6, 2014

It was everywhere in ’98/’99. It was almost the official 2UNE song. This was perhaps the first communal act of song loving I was involved in. Not just liking a song someone else had recommended – this was played, talked about, requested, loved by a group of us. All my years of musical isolation, whether in the small country town or by having a show of unpopular music on radio, I had kept myself away. I played nothing to bond over. And though I was getting my Indie/Alternative chops by 1998 but I was exploring alone.

Until Waltz #2. It grabbed us all and demanded our attention. It’s a song I can name names with – all my friends who were fans. No other songs before this make up such memories. Other tracks would come, and some may pop up here. But Waltz #2 is the original and best of them.

And what grabbed us? The beat, thudding, knocking off time. The pointlessness of it all, the emotions bubbling under the surface of the monotone singing. Disco 2000 this is not. For once we didn’t tell the narrator to give it up. Some people were past telling. For a group of late teens and early twenty-somethings – these were feelings we were still trying to work out ourselves. The song was a beacon and a lodestone. It contained no answers but we could all relate to it. And we requested it on each other’s programs. And we bonded over it without ever admitting we were doing so.

Later, Smith’s Figure 8 album was one of the first I reviewed in print. Despite being a good album, it wasn’t the same. We didn’t bond over it. The moment had passed and we had moved on.


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