For those who thought they’d bootlegged every last possible song from the late indie-rock hero Elliott Smith, it’s your lucky day.
An unreleased Smith track called “The Real Estate” will appear July 19 on Live from Nowhere Near You II, a new three-disc benefit comp curated by Kevin Moyer. When we first heard the news, we wondered (as we sifted through our own stacks of Smith recordings), how did it resurface eight years after Smith’s death?
Turns out Moyer went to high school with Smith in downtown Portland, Oregon. He originally reached out to Smith years ago when he was working on the first volume of the compilation, which benefits Outside In, a Portland-based charity for homeless youth, but Smith didn’t end up contributing.
“I think this was either smack in the middle of his downward spiral or during his subsequent rise and recovery from it,” Moyer said in a statement. Sadly, a few months after the charity record was released, he learned that Smith had passed away. “I was completely and totally devastated, and still am.”
Years afterward, Moyer met up with Larry Crane, who owns Portland’s Jackpot! Studio, where Smith often recorded. Crane had just finished mixing Smith’s posthumous release New Moon, and as he listened to unreleased tracks with Moyer, they discovered an unlabeled mystery track hiding between two other known songs on a DAT tape.
“Neither Larry nor Elliott’s family nor I had ever heard this song before finding it, and to our knowledge no one knew that this song even existed,” said Moyer. “Frequent collaborators like Neil Gust and Sam Coomes had no idea what it was either, it was never played live, and even his rabid fan base had no idea.” For Moyer, “It seemed that this song was recorded completely, once, and then completely forgotten.”
Crane later discovered that the track had been written by Smith for his high school band Stranger Than Fiction, who Moyer had seen at a high school talent show. “It seems that Elliott had brought the song back out and recorded it that many years later by himself for reasons unknown,” said Moyers. “ ‘Really,’ I thought? ‘Back to high school, are we going full circle here?’”
Even better: Smith’s high school wasn’t far from Outside In. And you can contribute to the Portland charity by pre-ordering all three discs of Live From Nowhere Near You, which also feature Modest Mouse and the Strokes, for $15 by clicking here.