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Unaired Jon Brion Show Features Lost Elliott Smith Performance

January 17, 2013  |  6:00pm
Unaired Jon Brion Show Features Lost Elliott Smith Performance

Prepare yourself: The level of talent on display in the video below is nothing short of mind-blowing.

Today, a Youtube user named AlRosePromotions uploaded a never-aired 2000 VH1 pilot starring producer/composer extraordinaire Jon Brion. The program takes on the form of a music session show, with a jovial Brion acting as host.

The pilot is incredible for several reasons. First, the show is directed by There Will Be Blood and The Master filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson (Brion had recently composed the score for Anderson’s Magnolia). Second, the inaugural guest is none other than late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith.

The show embraces a very loose, informal feel, with a clearly self-conscious, camera-shy Smith prone to false-starts and muttering frequent apologies for flubbed notes, even as he turns out several achingly beautiful performances in the the frail-yet-gorgeous voice that made him a critical darling in the ‘90s and early 2000s.

Despite their vastly different energy levels, Brion and Smith make for a charming duo, with Brion playfully poking fun at Smith’s subdued stage presence. Noted jazz pianist Brad Mehldau joins the pair for two songs.

In the course of the show, Smith plays “Son of Sam,” “Independence Day,” “Bottle Up and Explode!” “Everything Means Nothing to Me” and “Happiness” as well as covers of The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunet, John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” and Big Star’s “Nighttime.” Jon Brion contributes by singing his own composition “Trouble.”

Watch the 43-minute program below (via SPIN). Although the performance has emerged in various forms over the years, this is the first time it’s been uploaded in full.

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