In the age of digital streaming music, entire discographies are at your fingertips but the concept of the rarity is on its last legs. The End of Scarcity is a feature that attempts to spotlight the deep cuts from big names that can’t be found on Spotify or bought on iTunes. Demos, B-Sides, Covers, whatever — things that require a close searching. Today: Elliott Smith.
Elliott Smith had a lot of early demos and recordings, indicating a writer that was also a meticulous editor. Those early drafts eventually saw publication on the posthumous 2007 release New Moon, along with other loose unpublished works. As a result, there aren’t that many purely unreleased Elliott Smith songs out there anymore.
One of the few is “I Figured You Out,” a song that is captured only in a live performance from February 2000. Smith would eventually ditch this song for sounding “too much like The Eagles,” but it’s still one of his best. The guitar work, in particular, captures everything that was magical about his acoustic picking.
The song starts with a dedication: “This song’s for Mary Lou,” says Smith, but it doesn’t sound like she’s there. I’ve had this MP3 for years, and I never really thought about that call out. It turns out Mary Lou is Mary Lou Lord, a singer-songwriter for whom he was opening at that show. It turns out that 8 years later, Lord would record a cover of that very track herself:
It’s a nice, neat little circle.