While beloved by a devoted fan base, Elliott Smith is known to the broader public more for how he died than the music he made while alive. In 2003, at the age of 34, Smith was found with two stab wounds to the chest, and his death has never been definitively ruled either suicide or homicide.
Next week, two fans, Jessica Lea Mayfield and Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers, will release a tribute album to the singer.
amNewYork spoke with Mayfield.
How did this album come about?
We were both into the [Smith] album "From a Basement on the Hill." We were just hanging out together and he started playing the song "Twilight" on piano. I started singing it. From there we kept sending each other Elliott Smith covers. It didn't start out that we would make an album.
When did it become an album?
When Seth booked studio time. I was like "OK, all right, we're making an album." [laughs] I'm glad we finished it. There are so many times we cover songs with friends and wind up with musical endeavors that are half started.
When did you discover Smith's music?
I met a fella at a show [I was playing]. I snuck him up to my room in my parents' house. He was an older college boy and he rode his bicycle over. He started playing his original songs. I thought, "These songs are terrible." Then he covered "Clementine" and I said, "This song is great. You've got a great song." He said, "You don't know Elliott Smith?" The next day he came over, he brought me a pint of rum and an Elliott Smith CD.
What do you hope people take away from the album?
I hope they like it. I hope they don't hate it. I don't like to have expectations because that never works out. ? Smith was such an iconic dude, some people are like, "Don't mess with him." I just really love his music.
If you go: Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield are at Town Hall on Thursday at 8 p.m., 123 W. 43rd St., $35-$45.