Elliott Smith's Unreleased Performance of "Pretty (Ugly Before)" Is a Must-Hear

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Elliott Smith's Unreleased Performance of "Pretty (Ugly Before)" Is a Must-Hear

If you’ve been feeling down since the conclusion of Our First 100 Days last weekend, have no fear: 7-Inches for Planned Parenthood is keeping the protest playlist ball rolling. Today, they’re spotlighting a previously unreleased live performance by Elliott Smith of his song “Pretty (Ugly Before).”

Recorded at L.A. club Largo in 1999, five years before it would eventually make it onto his final album, the posthumously released From a Basement on the Hill, this is reportedly Smith’s first-ever performance of the song. As Largo owner Mark Flanagan recounts, Elliott, along with his friend and composer Jon Brion, “sequestered themselves in my tiny upstairs office and he played us the song.” Flanagan quickly asked the night’s headliner, Janeane Garafalo, if she wouldn’t mind Smith performing before her set and “within minutes we heard what you now hear.”

The performance is much more barebones, and maybe more beautiful, than the studio version, featuring just Smith on his acoustic guitar and Brion on an “antiquated pump organ.”

This marks the second release from 7-inches for Planned Parenthood, following a live version of CHVRCHES’ “Down Side of Me” that they put out earlier this week. There are plenty more to come, and you can find more info with the full list of announced contributors (which includes Garafalo) here. You can also pre-order the complete vinyl boxset here.

Stream the performance via Apple Music, iTunes or Spotify, and below, find a statement from Elliott Smith’s estate about contributing the track to the Planned Parenthood benefit, plus audio from a 1998 performance at Tramps in New York via the Paste Cloud. Artwork for the Planned Parenthood single, also included below, is a piece by Brooklyn artist Akira Bharoocha titled “Tropical.”

Statement from the Estate of Elliott Smith:

“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.”

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