XO is the name of the fourth album recorded by American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. It was Smith's first release on a major label, DreamWorks Records, on 25 August 1998 in Compact Disc format. Bong Load Custom Records released it on vinyl LP, which has since gone out of print. Vinyl copies of XO remained rare until a rerelease by Plain Records in 2008. The album is also available as digital download.
The singles from XO were "Waltz #2 (XO)" and "Baby Britain". An early working title for the album was Grand Mal. Smith recorded numerous songs during the XO sessions that did not make it to the album.
All songs written by Elliott Smith.
- "Sweet Adeline" – 3:15
- "Tomorrow Tomorrow" – 3:07
- "Waltz #2 (XO)" – 4:40
- "Baby Britain" – 3:13
- "Pitseleh" – 3:22
- "Independence Day" – 3:04
- "Bled White" – 3:22
- "Waltz #1" – 3:22
- "Amity" – 2:20
- "Oh Well, Okay" – 2:33
- "Bottle Up and Explode!" – 2:58
- "A Question Mark" – 2:41
- "Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands" – 4:25
- "I Didn't Understand" – 2:17
Available on CD, cassette and LP. A DreamWorks release.
Recorded at Sunset Sound, The Sound Factory, Ocean Way and Sonora, Los Angeles, CA, except "Baby Britain" and "Amity" which were recorded at Jackpot! Studios, Portland, OR.
Strings and horns arranged by Elliott Smith with Tom Halm and Shelly Berg.
Sleeve by Johnson and Wolverton, Portland, OR.
Photographs by Eric Matthies.
Produced, recorded and mixed by Tom Rothrock, Rob Schnapf, Elliott Smith and Larry Crane, XO was Smith's first major release since Heatmiser's Mic City Sons. Smith had already been working on the record before getting notice from the music featured on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack. He eventually previewed most of the songs very early before the August 25, 1998 release.
"Independence Day" was added to the album's tracklist at the last minute. The Japanese import version features "Miss Misery" as an extra track, but this version is a little bit different than the other version on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, as the first guitar note is missing.
Strange Parallel was released during this time. A music video for "Baby Britain" was also released. The music video and Strange Parallel were both directed by Steve Hanft.
Printed inside the liner notes for the CD was a URL for what was supposed to be Smith's first official website, www.alphabet-town.com. A page did exist with a 'coming soon' message as well as a free download of the song "Our Thing" (which featured Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss from Quasi). The site eventually became a part of the DreamWorks site and never a stand-alone site until sweetadeline.net, now recognized as Smith's official site, came along in 2000.
- The title of the first track, "Sweet Adeline", was inspired by Smith's recollections of his grandmother singing in her glee club, Sweet Adelines International.
- "Amity" was named after a friend who can be seen in photographs from Smith's 1997 tour.
- Smith performed "Waltz #2" October 17, 1998 on Saturday Night Live.
- "Waltz #2" was inspired about a specific memory from Smith's childhood watching his mother and stepfather at a karaoke bar in Texas. The first draft of the song contained the nakedly personal lyrics "I love you, mom."
- A sampling of the opening "Ahhhhhhh" of "I Didn't Understand," along with a sample of Smith's vocalizing from the same song, is prominently featured in RJD2's song "Ghostwriter" from the album Deadringer.
- "Pitseleh" means "little one" in Yiddish.
- "Miss Misery," written by Smith and included in the soundtrack to fellow Portlander Gus Van Sant's film Good Will Hunting, appears as track 15 on Japanese pressings.
- "Bled White" is sampled on Mathias Schaffhäuser's song "Dear Elliott" from the album Coincidance.
Outtakes, B-sides, and non-album tracks
The following tracks were recorded during the XO
sessions but ultimately did not make the album:
- "Division Day" - Featured on the "Division Day" single.
- "The Enemy is You" - Featured on the "Baby Britain" single.
- "How to Take a Fall" - Featured on the "Waltz #2 (XO)" single.
- "Miss Misery" - Featured on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack.
- "No Name #6" - Featured on the "Division Day" single.
- "Our Thing" - Featured on the "Waltz #2 (XO)" single.
- "Waltz #1" (Demo)
- "First Timer" - Featured on New Moon) (later renamed and re-recorded as "From a Poison Well".
- "Miss Misery" (early version) - Featured on New Moon.
- "A Silver Chain" - Instrumental, unknown if vocals were finished.
- "A Question Mark" - Instrumental, alternate.
- "Bled White" - Alternate version.
- "Cecilia/Amanda" - Early version.
- "Division Day" - Alternate version.
- "I Didn't Understand" - Alternate version.
- "Taking a Fall"
- An instrumental, title unknown
- "Cecilia/Amanda" (XO sessions version)
Other XO-era tracks
- "Have You Seen Her?" - Played live once, unknown if studio version exists.
- "My New Freedom (Doing Okay, Pretty Good)" - Played live once in 1997 and again in 2002, unknown if studio version exists.
- "Tom's Start" (also known as "Back in the Day") - Later renamed and re-recorded as "Happiness", which was included on Smith's next album, Figure 8.
- "Unlucky Charm" - Played live, unknown if studio version exists.