Music, Venue

Deep Cuts-Elliott Smith – A Distorted Reality Is Now A Necessity To Be Free

Elliott Smith’s ‘A Distorted Reality Is Now A Necessity To Be Free’ is concealed quite nicely within Smith’s oeuvre. Like most of his work, ‘Distorted Reality’ is pessimistic indie-pop delving into Smith’s addiction and depression. The final track on the posthumous release From A Basement On The Hill, the song was also the last single Smith released before passing in October 2003. 

The lyrics poetically illustrate a depressive’s self-destructive attempts to “be free” of his disease, questioning whether his issues are because his “country don’t give a f*ck” or within his head, ultimately realising he will always be “between” and never happy or clean. Musically, ‘Distorted Reality’ has Smith’s characteristic piano/drum/bass/guitar and takes melodic inspiration from George Harrison as with his previous album, Figure 8.

Sadly, this song isn’t as popular as Smith’s other work, because it is fundamentally, at its core, hopeless. It is Smith’s final fade-out, the last message from a dependent to a world which “disappoint[‘s]” him, where all his interactions are with people wanting to use him and his talent selfishly. It is the hopeless last message of a depressive to a world that he doesn’t feel welcome or free in, and a realisation that he never will.


About Author


Alex Grenfell

January 2021
Latest Comments
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    Favourite song covers
    Ma’am, this is a Wendy’s
  • Avatar Scott B
    Favourite song covers
    Is this author 14 years old with absolutely zero knowledge on music? Has to be. Two out of three songs are irrelevant. Both by shitty bands. Who paid for this?…
  • Avatar theizzin
    Should we mourn GCSE poetry?
    Wonderful article! Very insightful and brilliantly communicated. I wasn't aware of this issue before, but this article has really brought it to light for me. Thank you very much!
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