“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
As of this writing I don’t actually know if the rumors of Vic Chesnutt’s death are true or not. I suppose this will be a mystery soon solved. The holidays can bring out the fragility of life in a way other run-of-the-mill days just aren’t designed to do. I sit here early on this Christmas morning, in the dark and in the quiet of the day while my 14 day old son sleeps beside me after being saturated with milk and can’t help but think about life and death.
I saw Vic Chesnutt once with a girl I no longer know at the old King Kat Theater in Seattle. At the time I had not heard of him and we had gone to see the other band. It’s funny though, I don’t remember who the other band was now. Chesnutt, however was a man, a musician, an artist who left an impression. He sat alone in his chair on this wide open stage, half slumped over his electric guitar and played small songs and talked about life. He was impossibly quiet. I recall that he had a cold that evening, which amplified his physical weaknesses. At times in mid song he would have to stop to cough and I remember thinking he was brave to be out there in front of all these strangers singing these intimate songs of his life, while looking so incredibly fragile and vulnerable. He was everything art should be. Captivating and unique, misunderstood and controversial. As a fan you could champion him, as a person you could simply gawk. He was something the girl and I talked about after we left and something that has remained with me for over a decade while so many other things have slipped away. Merry Christmas Vic, wherever you are.
Post Script: Vic Chesnutt passed away Friday, 12/25/09 in a hospital in Athens, Ga. He was 45.