If Music be the Food of Love...

by Charles Miller on October 23, 2003

Les Pecheurs de Perles, Sydney Opera House, 2003-10-23

It must have kinda sucked to be Georges Bizet. But not much.

When you're 25 years old, you write The Pearl-Fishers. All in all, it's a pretty average opera. The plot's shonky, and most of the music isn't particularly memorable. As first major efforts go, though, it's not bad.

A third of the way into the first act, though, you write Au Fond du Temple Saint, one of the most sublime moments opera has, or will ever see. This eight minutes makes your otherwise forgettable first attempt immortal. This isn't so bad. With something like Au Fond du Temple Saint in the first act, it would have been downhill from there anyway. It's not like Turandot, where the audience at least have to wait two acts for Nessun Dorma.

Later, you'll write Carmen, which has so many memorable tunes back to back that even non-opera-goers whistle them without knowing it. But none of them are quite as good as that duet you wrapped The Pearl-Fishers around.

Elliott Smith, August 6, 1969 – October 21, 2003

I don't know much of his work, but XO has been my constant companion for about four years now. If you look at my "most played" list in iTunes, that album accounts for six out of the top ten slots.

When I was happy, I marvelled at the artistry of the album, the way the pieces blended together. They were songs that made me wish I had even a tenth of the talent that went into writing them. Tomorrow, Tomorrow inspires me to practice my guitar, and then taunts me because I'll never come up with something that magical. Independence Day was my whimsical optimism.

When I was sad, I dove into its melancholy, and found somewhere warm to hide and lick my wounds. I Didn't Understand followed me on a train from Santa Barbara, leaving Danna behind. Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands was the controlled bitterness that I had to harness to stop Candi destroying me.

I never dared buy any of his other albums, lest they taint XO by being not as good.

And now, it seems, he's killed himself.

Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands

everybody cares, everybody understands
yes, everybody cares about you
yeah and whether or not you want them to
it's a chemical embrace that kicks you in the head
to a pure synthetic sympathy that infuriates you totally
and a quiet lie that makes you wanna scream and shout

so here I lay dreaming looking at the brilliant sun
raining its guiding light upon everyone

for a moment's rest you can lean against the banister
after running upstairs again and again
from wherever they came to fix you in
but always fear the city's finest follow right behind

you got a pretty vision in your head
a pencil full of poison lead
and a sickened smile illegal in every town

so here I lay dreaming looking at the brilliant sun
raining its guiding light upon everyone
here I lay dreaming looking at the brilliant sun
raining its guiding light upon everyone

you say you mean well
you don't know what you mean
fucking ought to stay the hell away
from things you know nothing about

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