In my second novel, the narrator, Brian, shows his ambivalent feelings about Elliott Smith. As he makes his way out of Oregon, Rachel complains about the unrelenting stream of sadcore that Brian is playing. He tells her to put something else on:
She hit eject and grabbed a random tape from a stack at her feet. The radio growled with static. She shoved a new tape in. Elliott Smith’s voice came over the speakers, “Your hand on his arm, haystack charm, around your neck. Strung out and thin, call some friend trying to cash some check. He’s acting dumb, that’s what you’ve come to expect. Needle in the hay…”
After some unrelated dialog, it continues:
“Falling out, sixth and Powell, a dead sweat in my teeth,” Elliott Smith continued through the speakers like he knew what he was talking about.
Smith’s work is highly poetic and not the sort of thing that Brian — who has lived a very hard life — appreciates. He feels it co-opts his life. And especially in “Needle in the Hay,” Smith is describing the kind of life that Brian knows to be not at all poetic — and something he is fleeing.
Still, pretty song.