The first one is a pretty major. The session was recorded on July 21, 1996 — not in 1997, as previously reported. This was confirmed after tracking down Eric Speck, the former WMUC DJ who created Third Rail Radio, the station’s live music show, and booked Smith for the session.
Here’s what Speck said about Smith’s visit to College Park in an e-mail: “he was SHOCKINGLY shy and it became clear he had on air jitters. he pretty much locked himself in the promotion office - alone - to tune and practice. he was super nice, but very sullen and soft spoken. I remember thinking retrospectively over the years that he was very sincere because how he presented himself on my show was always how i saw him in later years on tv and live.”
Adam Wenchel, the engineer for the WMUC recording session, also sent an e-mail: “[Smith] traveled with his manager who looked more like a nightclub bouncer than a typical indie rock roadie... [Smith] was melancholy but not at all unfriendly or hard to work with.”
Listen to “Misery Let Me Down” here. (The song has been reuploaded after going down briefly on Tuesday.)
Update, 2:30 p.m.: The City Paper chimes in with more on this session.
Update, 5:30 p.m.: As the linked story above story tells us, there are many dots to connect on this one. Sam Chintha, who set up the microphones for this recording session remains convinced of a spring 1997 recording date. “[Smith] came through on a weekday though during the semester, we just taped for 3rd rail so a lot of kids couldn't stay for the session due to class or whatever but there was still a good amount of people there,” he says in an e-mail.
We will dig up this ADAT, wherever it is, and confirm once and for all...