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Elliott Smith's favourite albums of all time


Elliott Smith was an American singer-songwriter with a unique songwriting style and a beautiful, peaceful voice that made his music extraordinary. With songs like ‘Between the Bars’, ‘Needle In the Hay’, and ‘Say Yes’, Smith’s creations are now universally recognisable, etching his legacy into the annals of music history.

Unfortunately, the world lost his great talents far too soon, as Smith passed away at the young age of 34 in 2003. However, for those who are fans of Elliott Smith—or even those who have only just discovered his work—it can always be interesting to look into some of the inspirations behind the great musicians you admire. This notion feels particularly relevant for those who aren’t with us anymore, listening to some of their favourites can feel like a great way to connect and find other artists with a similar sound.

When it comes to Elliott Smith, he’s was famously open about his inspirations and favourite albums, so it’s easy to explore his mind in more detail—and what we’ll find actually makes a lot of sense. Perhaps one of his most obvious favourite albums is Pink Moon by Nick Drake. While this might not be everybody’s take on the two artists, I find that Nick Drake and Elliott Smith share a lot of qualities, and much more important than their tragic young deaths. 

Pink Moon, as well as the rest of Nick Drake’s discography, has the same soft, contemplative quality that Elliott Smith also captures in his music. It’s not just the acoustics, but also the distinct quality that they both have in their songwriting. Their creations, to me at least, sound highly similar and almost interchangeable, but they still remain unique to their own styles.

Another one of Smith’s favourite albums happens to be The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, which is also relatively unsurprising. The album captures some of Bob Dylan‘s best examples of balancing his soft-natured approach and the grit of his songwriting, with that little bit of western twang that can sometimes make its way into Smith’s work. Although they don’t sound exactly the same, it’s clear that the inspiration is there.

Similarly to Dylan himself, Elliott Smith had quite an affinity for The Beatles. Among his favourite albums, The Beatles appear many times across their discography. Abbey Road, Revolver, The White Album, and John Lennon’s Jealous Guy are all among his favourites. His dedication ran strong, too, as The White Album was apparently responsible for inspiring Smith to become a musician in the first place. He listened to The Beatles from a young age and even covered ‘Because’ for the American Beauty soundtrack. He is said to have recorded even more Beatles songs before his death, but none have been officially released.

Another clear favourite for Smith includes The Marble Index by Nico. There was even a time when he claimed to have only listened to that album for months at a time. If there’s one thing that’s true of Elliott Smith with his music taste, it’s that he doesn’t lack in dedication. 

If you want to get to know the rest of Elliott Smith’s favourite album picks, listen to the complete playlist below.

Elliott Smith’s favourite albums:

  • The White Album – The Beatles
  • Imagine – John Lennon
  • Marquee Moon – Television
  • The Marble Index – Nico
  • High Voltage – AC/DC 
  • The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan 
  • Like Flies on Sherbert – Alex Chilton 
  • I Second That Emotion – Smokey Robinson 
  • Alive II – Kiss 
  • Combat Rock – The Clash 
  • Pink Moon – Nick Drake 
  • Innervisions – Stevie Wonder 
  • 1 Record/Radio City – Big Star 
  • My Generation – The Who 
  • A Quick One  – The Who 
  • Rubber Soul – The Beatles 
  • Revolver – The Beatles 

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