Elliott Smith's music always seemed to be evolving. The sparse, acoustic sound of his first release, Roman Candle, led to the heavily orchestrated pieces on Figure 8. "Miss Misery," which is not on any Smith album, shows the singer caught between two worlds: the basic recording style of Either/Or and the fuller sound of his next release, XO. Still, with Smith's unique voice and song structure, vivid imagery, use of harmony vocals, and pop sensibilities, the song is very characteristic of this artist's sound.
The song is relevant to the artist in another way, too. When NME asked why the song never appeared on an album, Smith responded, "Because it seemed to belong to the movie it was in (Good Will Hunting), it would have taken up too much attention space and it would have distracted from the album." Smith's reluctance to put a famous song on an album probably cost him some album sales and easy advertising, but such a move was typical of the artist. He even went as far as to strike a deal prior to his death with his major label, DreamWorks, so that what became From a Basement on a Hill would be released by an independent label. Such actions show Smith's wishes to maintain the integrity of his music, even if it meant his income and fan-base remained stagnant.