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Watch Elliott Smith Cover John Lennon and Big Star in Vintage ‘Jon Brion Show’ Footage

Elliott Smith and Jon Brion

It was too good to be on TV. Circa 1999 or 2000, director Paul Thomas Anderson oversaw a pilot for a musical VH1 variety show that would have starred his frequent musical collaborator Jon Brion. The late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith appeared in the pilot, singing classic songs “Son of Sam,” “Independence Day,” “Bottle Up and Explode,” “Everything Means Nothing to Me,” and “Happiness,” plus three brilliantly chosen covers: John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” the Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset,” and Big Star’s “NIghttime.” He’s backed by Brion (known for his work with Fiona Apple, Kanye West, and more) and Brad Mehldau (a jazz pianist who was doing Radiohead piano covers a few years before Christopher O’Riley made that a shtick). They also perform Brion’s own “Trouble.” As IndieWire points out, footage from the pilot has floated around before, but now a YouTube account associated with Anderson has posted the whole thing online. Befitting “Jealous Guy,” we’ll give a long, appreciative whistle.