From His Bedroom to The Oscars - 'XO' and Elliott Smith's Everlasting Legacy


It's March 1998 and Elliott Smith stepped out onstage on the Shrine Auditorium where the Academy Awards were being held that year. The orchestra had already begun playing as Smith - white suit, mess hair and armed with an acoustic guitar - stood center stage, eyes downcast and sang an abbreviated version of 'Miss Misery'. his voice, always soft and whispery, started out radiating nevers, but he gained a bit of confidence as he went, as the orchestral embellishments which sounded nothing like Smith's original pushed him forward. His song was nominated for the Best Music, Original Song, presented by Madonna no less, but moments after his final strum, the orchestra's tin-whistle flute drew a line between his performance and the opening intro to Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On', the song that was always fated to win the award, as dry ice clouded the stage. And then, Elliott Smith, Celine Dion and Trisha Yearwood (also up for the award with 'How Do I Live' from Con Air) linked hands and took a bow. It was Smith's first foray into that epic world and he did it all in front of Jack Nicholson, James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Aaliyah, Denzel Washington and about 57 million others.