My Top 1000 Songs #248: Waltz #2

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

Another gorgeous, emotionally grueling Elliott Smith track. The dense, almost Beatlesque production on 1998's XO gives a lush, rich feel to the crisp waltz time signature, but doesn't sugarcoat Smith's vulnerability. Lyrically it's written as a backhand to his unwanted stepfather, lamenting the loss of his mother as he once knew her; but you could hear it more broadly as an effort to cope with losing any loved one to the affections of another.

"That's the man she's married to now. That's the girl that he takes around town. She appears composed, so she is, I suppose; who can really tell? She shows no emotion at all; stares into space like a dead china doll."

Savage stuff, breaks my heart every time; but you can make your way through the nakedness of the lyrics over and over because Smith's vocals and the sweet melody remain so inviting. And at the end of it all, Smith appears to hold onto some affection (if only it were so in reality): "I'm never gonna know you now, but I'm gonna love you anyhow."

Solo live in the studio:
Live with backing (including Sleater-Kinney's Janet Weiss):