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Elliott Smith: A Phoebe Bridgers Inspiration

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“Punisher” by Phoebe Bridgers is a widely known album. But unknown to some people is her true inspiration: Elliott Smith. The title track itself is about Phoebe’s love for Elliott Smith.

Going through the lyrics of this song, we can see her inspiration. The entire song talks about Elliott Smith and how Phoebe perceived his life through stories of those that she met. Both lived in LA for the majority of their lives and this provided a great connection for her. At one point she describes herself as a “copycat killer”- as she finds her music to be not only heavily inspired by Smith, but a replica – which can be seen through their similarities in indie/folk style.

Elliott Smith on his own is an incredible songwriter and musician, taking an acoustic approach while incorporating beautiful harmonies. Listening to his music with headphones truly enhances the experience as you hear each harmony coming from a different direction. Each song is so unique but stays within this same range of acoustic, truthful music. A lot of his music can be found on the soundtrack of the movie Good Will Hunting.

Phoebe Bridgers, on the other hand, is far more of a pop musician, even opening for one of the most famous celebrities, Taylor Swift on her Eras Tour. The stylistic differences are quite obvious as Phoebe uses more modern techniques in music. She also is part of the infamous band Boygenius, whose earlier music certainly provides a greater sense of that Elliott Smith depressing folk style that is incredibly loved by both artists’ fans.

Both are incredible artists that deserve recognition for their wonderful music but while Phoebe Bridgers’ music has some similar qualities to his, Elliott Smith will always come first, both in time and priority in my playlists.

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About the Contributor
Bobbie Dropick, Writer
My name is Bobbie Dropick and I am a writer for the McMahon archive. I am a senior here at McMahon and I love all thing music! ☮︎

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