Elliott Smith died in October 2003. This single therefore represents a quiet elegy to a man whose life erred to the far left of harmony, musically and personally. He had released 5 LP's and numerous EP's and singles, mostly self financed, during his career, and was, at the opposite side of the career spectrum, nominated for an Oscar in 1998 for his song Miss Misery as featured on Good Will Hunting.
His music often offered a quiet introversion, despite Smith's protestations to not being a confessional songwriter, and this single Pretty (Ugly Before) again purports the contrary. Taken from his sixth LP From A Basement On A Hill, that he working on at the time of death, he offers a charmingly sparse and beautiful, then melodically full ambience that sings of fragility and hope, and whilst the songs sings upbeat, it is still markedly haunted. "It's the destruction that you require to feel," that Smith knew intimately and devastatingly.
The simplicity of the melody is made all the more poignant by Smith's unaffected delivery and the listener can't help but swim in it's beauty. This single offers not only touching tribute, but also an intimate and profound encapsulation to the loss of Elliot Smith.