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October 16th, 2013 MATTHEW SINGER | Music Stories
 

Pieces of Elliott

A brief guide to finding Elliott Smith in Portland.

piece_3950(paint)IMAGE: Larry Crane / larry-crane.com
Southeast 29th Avenue and Taylor Street
The home where Smith recorded Roman Candle. According to his then-girlfriend, J.J. Gonson, she returned years later and knocked on the door to find the Shins’ James Mercer lived there.


Southeast 32nd Avenue and Yamhill Street
Larry Crane’s former house, where he first met Smith through the singer-songwriter’s girlfriend at that time, musician Joanna Bolme, who brought him over for a barbecue. Crane and Smith tracked songs that ended up on Either/Or in the makeshift basement recording space.


Jackpot Recording Studio
Smith helped Crane build his studio at its original location, the corner of Southeast Morrison Street and 20th Avenue (it’s since moved to Southeast Division and 50th), where they demoed several songs and recorded the Oscar-nominated version of “Miss Misery.”


Space Room
The Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard dive was one of the bars Smith frequented, along with My Father’s Place and Club 21. He and Sean Croghan hung out there a lot when Smith lived on Southeast Division Street, getting “very drunk,” putting Johnny Cash on the jukebox and “crying together” at the bar, Croghan says.


La Luna
Courtesy of Mark Moore
Once the nucleus of Portland’s music scene (now the location of Japanese restaurant Biwa) and the site of album-release shows for Elliott Smith and Either/Or, as well as performances by Spudboys—Smith and Croghan’s Devo cover band.


EJ’s
A strip club-turned-rock bar on Northeast Sandy Boulevard, opened by a dancer, who lived in the apartment upstairs. A favorite haunt of Smith’s, who once played a Kinks tribute night there, backed by Quasi. Now a pawnshop.


Bluebird Guesthouse
The “Elliott Smith Room” at this Division Street bed and breakfast features “an antique desk, cute patterned carpet and replica fixtures,” according to its website.


Either/Or Cafe
This quaint Sellwood coffee shop, opened in 2013, takes its name from Smith’s 1997 album.


Elliott Smith memorial plaque
IMAGE: Bob Kubeczko
Portland’s only official monument honoring Smith, affixed to a wall at Lincoln High School, where he graduated in 1987. His gold-plated visage appears to peer across the hall, forever staring at an Abraham Lincoln quote painted on the adjacent wall: “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
 
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