Unreleased live version of Elliott Smith’s “Pretty (Ugly Before)” surfaces on Planned Parenthood compilation — listen

The lovely, stripped-down rendition was recorded at L.A.'s Largo in 1999

Fans of the late Elliott Smith have had a bounty of previously unreleased material to sift through as of late, what with the 20th anniversary reissue of Either/Or and an unearthed collaboration with No. 2. Now, another unreleased track has dropped courtesy of 7-inches for Planned Parenthood, a singles initiative consisting of new or unreleased tracks by musicians, comedians, speakers, and visual artists.

Smith’s posthumous is a live version of From A Basement On The Hill’s “Pretty (Ugly Before)”, which was recorded at L.A.’s Largo in 1999. The lovely, sad, stripped-down version features just Smith’s guitar and collaborator Jon Brion playing an “antiquated pump organ.” Listen to it below:

The estate of Elliott Smith said the following in a press release:

“Elliott did and said many things in his life that showed his commitment to the principles that Planned Parenthood stands for, including equal rights for all, affordable and accessible access to healthcare, and a woman’s autonomy over her body. He was an outspoken feminist (evidenced not only by his actions and countless conversations with friends and family, but also by his culminating college thesis written in spring of 1991 entitled “Toward a Post-Structuralist Feminist Jurisprudence”). He went out of his way to play for or otherwise contribute to charitable causes. For these reasons, and so many more, Elliott’s family has no doubt that he would feel very proud to be part of this project.”

Largo’s owner, Mark Flanagan, also released a statement:

“In this beautiful, scary and most complicated world, Elliott Smith was here, accompanied by his guitar and his friend Jon Brion on a antiquated pump organ, and brings us to a simple place.

This song was recorded on a hot LA late summer night. Elliott would very often drop by to hang out ( and lucky for me at the time and now all us ) he would be bursting with the need to share his latest songs. This version of this song was the first time he performed it. Jon happened to be at Largo that nite and he and Elliott sequestered themselves in my tiny upstairs office and he played us the song. Jon’s pump organ was sitting right outside the door and he dragged it in and started playing along.

I went downstairs to make sure the night’s comedy show was moving along. Janeane Garafalo was the headliner with a few other comedians also performing. All of us were big fans of Elliott and Janeane was no exception. I asked her if she thought it would be cool if he did a new song before she went on. She was thrilled, so I went back upstairs and told the boys they were up next, they laughed and said no way.

Within minutes we heard what you now hear.

Elliott was a beautiful, kind, funny, awkward, confident, handsome, scrawny, cool dude. I found this cassette recording among the many cassette recordings I have of his shows from almost 20 years ago and can think of no better place for it to find it’s way to all kind people who support girls young and older in our world.

Largo doors stay open now and always. Please support Planned Parenthood and let us all thank Elliott’s wee sister Ashley for making this happen.”

The single’s artwork was created by Brooklyn artist Hisham Akira Bharoocha. It’s called “Tropical” and Bharoocha describes it thusly: “I made it casually a while back when I was doing more straight-forward illustration work for magazines, but I liked it and kept it in my archive. It’s a cut paper collage and all done by hand, cutting with scissors and gluing down to paper. I like using origami paper because it’s so smooth to cut and paste with.”

7-inches for Planned Parenthood also includes contributions from Björk, Foo Fighters, Common, Bon Iver, Mitski, Tig Notaro, Sarah Silverman, Margaret Cho, and Janeane Garofalo, among others. You can pre-order the box set now at its website. 100% of all proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood.


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