Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Vic Chesnutt Rest In Peace

Photo borrowed from VicChesnutt.com

Boy do I hate to be a downer after so many months of blogging silence but I had to post a belated tribute. I learned today that Vic Chesnutt, one of my favorite singer/songwriters, passed away last Christmas (2009). These days I am so far out of the loop on all things not directly pertaining to Ian (my son) that it took me this long to hear the bad news. Vic was a brilliant voice and a wonderful guy. I, for one, will miss him very much.

Vic was a musician's musician. While he never seemed to attract more than a small crowd, he inspired many other musicians. His music has been covered by so many performers that it seems pointless to list them. Even so, his gritty, unpolished style seemed to keep the mainstream from ever truly embracing him.

I had the pleasure of seeing Vic in concert perhaps three times over the past fifteen years. Needless to say, I am sorry to have been so inconsistent. You had to see him perform to truly appreciate his music. He was wheelchair-bound, due to an accident that left him partly paralyzed when he was 18 years old. I will always remember how, during what might be called an "intimate" show in New York City in the late 90's he seemed a little uncomfortable. His injuries clearly caused him significant ongoing pain. He asked the audience if anyone had a joint. To his surprise and delight, someone immediately offered him one. Without missing a beat, he not only accepted it but took several drags before continuing with the program.

It was during the same show that I repeatedly yelled a request for a song that I thought was called "Danny from Carlisle". I had to yell it a few times and eventually he looked straight at me and said "what?" Someone else in the audience translated for me: "He means Danny Carlisle." It turns out that my "from" was actually an "um" in the original CD version. I don't think he realized it was even there. He played the song for me though and didn't even give me a hard time about it.

A few years later, I met Vic in an alleyway outside Club Passim in Cambridge, MA. He was as friendly and relaxed in person as he seemed on the stage. There was no pretentious bone in his body. We made small talk -- nothing I can remember so many years later -- then he went in to do the show.

Check out some of his music here. Excuse the French text, his lyrics are all in English.

So long Vic. You will be missed.
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