Monday, December 28, 2009
RIP Vic Chesnutt
The news that Vic Chesnutt died over the weekend was a solid blow to the gut and a terrible loss for American music. His was one of the most original, sincere, and prolific voices out there, and we will miss his valuable contributions.
I've been struggling with what to say or write about this. Mostly, I've been listening. Going back through his albums, lying on the floor with The Salesman and Bernadette and staring at the ceiling dumbfounded over his wealth of even cast-off material. Drunk, Little, West of Rome, all amazing. Even his oddball collaborations--with the duo Keneipps and jamband icons Widespread Panic--carried weight.
I saw Chesnutt play only once, at the Cactus Cafe in Austin in 1998. The small room was packed and hung on every note and word. I remember particularly his turn through "Maiden"and its long, thoughtful pauses, the impressive vocal range, and the leaning toward insightful self-deprecation that attached him to his crowd as by blood "I'm a sorry, sorry knight in a horrible castle / hoping to avoid certain societal hassles." Chesnutt was gracious and mesmerizing, using the force of every strum and breath to its full potential.
Plenty will be written about this diminutive and injured man who was also one of the best songwriters of his generation. So I'll focus on his music, this week on Range Life. Tune in Wednesday from 5 to 7 mountain time and I'll play a bunch of it.