ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Fond Farewell - Elliott Smith Song Meaning and Interpretation

Updated on October 24, 2010

A Fond Farewell

This is easily one of Elliott's most beautiful songs. It is included on his post-humous release From a Basement on The Hill . I have heard the song interpreted in a couple of different ways.

The first interpretation is a common one when it comes to Elliott's music - that it is essentially a suicide note. I disagree with this for a number of reasons. First, there is no doubt that Elliott Smith dealt with depression and drug abuse during his life, but the media portrayal of him as little more than a doom and gloom indie rocker is just that, a media portrayal. Second he wrote about drug use and suicide in his songs, using those things metaphorically for other, sometimes larger or at least different issues. And third, tying right into what I think the song is about, lots of Elliott's work expertly contrasted the intersection of and the tension between 'hope and depression' that so many of us deal with.

Elliott, quite often, wrote about not being out no matter how down things looked. Take this line from Bled White as an example:

I may not seem quite right
but i'm not fucked, not quite

Or these lines from a recently leaked song, Suicide Machine, which was not included on the Basement release:

baby got a place in the sun selling people shade

everything's alright
except for how it seems

Could it be that Elliott was speaking of his role being cast as the melancholic singer-songwriter, providing the sadness, even if that's not what he was all about.

In Fond Farewell, Elliott writes verses that seem to deal with despair as he alludes to things like drug abuse, but after each verse, he comes back with what could have been a hopeful, even defiant chorus:

this is not my life
it's just a fond farewell to a friend
it's not what i'm like
it's just a fond farewell to a friend
who couldn't get things right
fond farewell to a friend
this is not my life
it's just a fond farewell to a friend

Maybe it was the case that with A Fond Farewell , Elliott was echoing the way he was reported to be feeling by many months preceding his death - clean, healthy, optimistically working on a new record. He illustrates his problems in the song and then notes, maybe not triumphantly but at least hopefully, that that is no longer who he is, as he bids a 'fond farewell' to the person he used to be.

Elliott's death leaves these questions unanswered, but looking into his music in this way is an important exercise. In doing so, we keep alive his memory and the very possibly alternative scenario to a death that has been all but accepted as a suicide.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Sandra white 

      2 years ago

      I love the song by elliot smith a fond farewell...my nephew passed of a heroin overdose Oct 15 2015.this is the song he picked for him self if one day he was to pass away.and sadly it happened n we played this song at his funeral.I myself can't not listen to it cause it makes cry so much. Adam loved the lyrics to this song with all his struggles. He is at peace now.but God know I miss him every single day like crazy. I love u adam costilla. Forever in my heart.

    • profile image

      ianmltn@gmail 

      2 years ago

      This song really struck me much. I actually couldn't completely understand so I looked up the lyrics. I just realized, the meaning I see in this:

      His friend is his physical self in this inherently limiting domain of existence which we call the third dimension of reality as we know it. He can take the psychic pain, if that's what he has to do to fit to some certain functionality- because he has such inspiration from his higher mind yet it's too much for this place. We all want to do so much and specifically, but things rarely turn out how we anticipate them. But none of the pain has to matter because this life does not actually define me. I will miss this life and all of you in it from the bottom of my heart. Who i am here will end, but I go on. A part of me has happened; passed on. and so in cherished reminiscing, farewell to all, and myself. His shadow waits around for its window to leave the dimension after the man has died of an overdose of heroin possibly. He's disconnecting from that person as the teller so you don't think of him, but rather the story which is him portraying himself. Disconnecting from the primate instance of what his higher self reflects; disconnecting from the genetic context I'm from, and onto something else.

    • profile image

      Oliver Steinn Bergsson 

      6 years ago

      Very good my friend. Thank you from Iceland. Oliver.

    • danielbatista profile image

      danielbatista 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Nice, one of my favorites of Elliott.

    • profile image

      anonymous  

      7 years ago

      I always thought this song was about him and his life and how inside he felt like a different person than what he appeared to be or wanted to be to others around him. But he could never really figure out how to do that due to his inner demons, things that happened to him or his addictions. So it was sort of him living his life not happily or to his liking, but getting by with the way things turned for him, but knowing he could have been different but not knowing how to make that change.

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      Elliott just picked up another fan.

    • composed profile imageAUTHOR

      composed 

      9 years ago from the place where I have what it takes

      no problem... one of his best... and you gotta love YouTube for the bootlegs.

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      This was good. Thank you.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)