Lyriquediscorde Song of the Day

“Miss Misery” by Elliott Smith
Song of the Day

“Two tickets torn in half,
and a lot of nothing to do.
Do you miss me,
Miss Misery,
like you say you do?”

SOTD Elliott Smith Miss Misery

Miss Misery” was featured in the 1997 movie, Good Will Hunting, and appears on the soundtrack. It was nominated for “Best Original Song” in the 1997 Academy Awards, where Elliott Smith performed the song.

A previous “early” version of the song, with alternate lyrics, was recorded in early 1997 and appears on the 2007 posthumous collection, New Moon. The original was recorded at Jackpot! Recording Studio, the same location where the song was re-cut for use in Good Will Hunting.

“Miss Misery” (Early Version) by Elliott Smith

Though I do love the version I knew first, from the film, it is the original that I love the most. There is a hope in it that is missing in the later soundtrack version that I think needs to be there to add to the complex emotional landscape of the song. It reminds me of how hard it is to make it through life, but that there are things that pull us through, a someday to work toward, whether that someday is real, or imagined.

That said, sometimes I listen to the “early version” and think that the chorus of “some enchanted night I’ll be with you” refers to death, instead of a lost and/or unrequited lover that may be seen again.

“Miss Misery” by Elliott Smith

American Songwriter had this to say about the song:

Like so many other Elliott Smith classics, the lyrics of “Miss Misery” defy easy understanding. On the one hand, it can be heard as the lament of a guy addressing a former lover who still keeps him on a short enough leash to give him a tug now and again (“you know me/ I come back when you want me to”). But the lack of details about the title character outside of her interactions with the narrator, coupled with her downcast name, could lead one to believe that “Miss Misery” is only a manifestation of the sorrow that always accompanies him.

For me, both versions touch on isolation and loss of love. Addiction feels weaved through the song, as well, though not on the surfaces, but as a part of the framework, and subtext. It feels at times like a break-up song, but something about it seems further out than most break-up songs sing to. This feels like years have passed and that this loss was a catalyst that led the singer, or character of the song, into a darkness that he/she can’t seem to escape from.

SOTD E Smith Miss Misery

In the early version, there is the hope I mentioned. But is the hope a form of denial? Or is it darker than that (as I mentioned above)?

What do you think? Which version do you prefer?

“Miss Misery” (live) by Elliott Smith

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