On Soul Idols (Elliott Smith and Belle and Sebastian)

Elliott Smith died the other day. I mentioned it to fellow student Rory without realizing that a) she didn’t know and that b) she idolized him. Her reaction was to intense I almost cried myself. I felt her, completely; loosing an idol is a much different thing than losing a family member or loved one. Because, with your idols, the main grievance (for me, anyway) is that they had so much to offer the world, it doesn’t seem fair that they should die (especially if they’re so young: Elliott Smith was 34). If they could inspire me this much, during this period in my life and theirs, imagine how many people will now miss out. Oh, sure, when it’s things like music and film and writing and in this day and age their legacy doesn’t die, but still: it’s never the same. To you, to any potential soul-brother, to the world.

I thought, that’s how I’d react if Stuart Murdoch died. “He was my savior! He IS my savior!” as Rory said about her fallen idol. Belle and Sebastian– particularly Stuart- have really helped me and given me the courage to pull through some of my hardest times these last 5 or so years. Leonor didn’t really understand the whole “idolizing” a “celebrity” thing, and I think maybe that’s because it’s an experience limited (and essential) to loners, outcasts, thinkers, philosophers, social misfits, life seekers, constant strugglers, and the like. (Although I don’t know if Rory identifies as any of these.)

For me, the lyrics and music of Belle and Sebastian spoke to me in a way that no person could: they spoke to a deep, repressed, often dark (yet sometimes so beautiful I didn’t know what to do with it) part of myself- my soul, perhaps. And during times when people let me down, Belle and Sebastian were a steady, reliable source of therapy, venting, hope, and yes, even love. Love of beauty and of the world. They gave me faith- or at least hope- in humanity again.

Since then I’ve had Belle and Sebastian songs in my head (as well as, occasionally, an Elliott Smith). Thank you, Rory.


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