So many people are writing these beautiful, moving tributes to Scott Miller on the occasion of his passing, and I don’t know if I can. It’s raw, it hurts.
It get tangled up just trying to enumerate the ways in which he touched my life.
The music, of course: songs with stick-in-your-head-for-days hooks, yet so knotty that I could actually learn how to play them without grokking how they worked. (Don’t respond. She can tell.) How I loved his integration of playful experimentalism and formalism into genres not known for encompassing them. The riddle of juxtaposing the crushing guitar of “Dripping with Looks” with that wispy, unassertive percussion? I credit that — the conundrum which opens the very first of Scott’s records I heard all the way through — with being one of the things that sparked my interest in how records sounded, and more, how, and why, they were assembled. “Vacuum Genesis”?! Don’t get me started. Led me to a whole world I never knew existed. And I haven’t even said anything about the lyrics.
But not just the lyrics. Scott’s gift with words in general, as evidenced not only in his songs, but in the “Ask Scott” column, in his marvelously insightful music criticism, and in the actual conversations I had with him (of which I will forever wish there had been more). Not just the words but the glittering, incisive mind behind them. Scott was one of the people who often left me feeling like I didn’t quite have the intellectual equipment to keep up with him, but not in a shove-your-face-in-it-way. On the contrary, Scott expressed himself with a curious humbleness, that storied wry self-deprecation, and he always addressed you like you were really smart, too.
And for me, that leads into the most important impact Scott had on me: the personal connections his work inspired. There’s his own unfailing warmth and generosity: from our first meeting he treated me like a friend, not a fan. But the people who respond to the smarts, hooks, and deep disdain for narrow genre borders that characterize his work are a pretty special group. This week I’ve been kind of gobsmacked by the outpourings from people I know by reputation or only slightly, friends, even former bandmates, whose admiration for Scott’s work in retrospect seems like it should have been obvious, but wasn’t known to me before now. But among the folks nerdy and involved enough to join the Loudfans online community I found several of my dearest friends.
And most of all, it was directly through out mutual admiration of Scott’s work that I found my wife. An impact that is literally unquantifiable.
So goodbye and bon voyage, Scott, far too soon. I’m going to miss you always.
I wish that when I die I could hear the other work you might have done.
And I’m going to try like fucking hell to make something you would have found worth paying attention to, something you would have been proud to have inspired.