4884000906_45b8e8b8a4_oYesterday marked ten years since Elliott Smith died. There’s a lot to be said about the troubled singer-songwriter’s work, the vast majority of which has yet to date one iota. But for today, I thought I’d share one fresh detail that seemed pertinent.

Some of us consider his performance at the 1998 Academy Awards the all-time greatest moment in the history of that particular broadcast/circus. A once-in-a-lifetime example of meekness in the midst of gaudiness, strength in weakness, both unexpected and uncontrived (to the max), not to mention breathtaking in its beauty. Remember, this was the year that Titanic was up for everything, and Jim Cameron’s aesthetic couldn’t have possibly been further removed from that of pock-marked, soft spoken Elliott.

To commemorate his death, Pitchfork ran an in-depth oral biography of the guy, and the comments about that night surprised me. Apparently Elliott was not just an instrument of grace at the Oscars (for us viewers), he was its recipient as well. That is, if the reports of his two close friends are to be believed:

“The highlight of that event for Elliott was that Celine Dion made him feel comfortable, from backstage to onstage. It really was amazing. She made him really feel at home, like he was one of them… Celine Dion was really awesome to him. She really was.”

The popular went out of their way for the sake of the obscure, the diva for the wallflower, the powerful for the marginalized, etc. I’m overstating things a little but still, if Elliott was an unlikely beacon of ‘glory’ to the Hollywood glitterati, Celine certainly would have been as much to the indie community of Portland from which Elliott sprang (“anathema” isn’t too strong a word). So can anything good come out of Nazareth? Who’s to say. All I can do is invite you once…. more… to open the door:

As a bonus, this cover always kills me: