Like a Vacation, Like a Little Song I wanted to hear....
This is not a blog about how sad it is that Vic Chesnutt took his own life. There has been much written about a bad decision he made that probably took less than thirty minutes to accomplish. I will not, without knowing him personally, try to identify his motivation or glorify it in any way, or pass judgement on him. Vic is gone. No more music, no more tours.
I got passed a burned copy of a collection of songs several years ago. I was told that Vic was "That guy in the wheelchair in Sling Blade". The lyrics spoke to me. His fragmented writing, open to interpretation, was like so many fuzzy pictures in my mind. He could make you feel the silent existence of "Betty Lonely" and then imagine his random postcards from the road in "Onion Soup". I was fascinated that he learned to play the guitar with only the use of two fingers, when I haven't yet learned to play with ten good fingers. Vic transcended type, at once sounding twangy and southern, never quite capturing what it was to be from Athens, Georgia. His sound was his own, untainted by those pesky A and R people at major recording labels who neuter all good music and make it "radio ready".
One could conclude that Vic struggled to be seen for who he was. Injured in a car accident in his youth, he lived half his life not being able to walk, with only partial use of his hands. He often wrote about cold feet and crumpled fingers. all you had to do was read what he had written or listen to an interview with him to see that he was a giant, bright light in the world, his legs just didn't work right, end of story. His best friend and collaborator for years, Kristen Hersh wrote, "I saw him as unassailable, huge and wonderful, but I think Vic saw himself as small and broken and sad." Indeed, I saw him much the same as she did, I once got an opportunity to talk to him at a smaller venue, and I just couldn't. I thought I would say something stupid, fan-like, as I often have what I think is little grace. I revered him too much to go up and say hello.
I find it hard to believe that his best friend was the only one who saw him for who he was. Sometimes I think we would be better off if we all looked the same, with only our intellect and personalities to distinguish us from one another. There are very few people in this world that get that. Personality and intellect trump any kind of disability or "superficial "flaw" that we may have. Some of the most attractive people I have met have the worst personalities and lack of moral compass. Some people that aren't considered "attractive" to others make my heart skip a beat at the mere sight of them, and I feel compelled to be next to them. Vic had that kind of power about him. Watching him play guitar, you forgot that only certain fingers worked, and that wheelchair was just another chair. You became hypnotized by the ice blue eyes, the wavering southern voice, and his often cryptic, haunting lyrics.
Vic is somewhere, that I am sure of. I imagine he set down his guitar, having said all he wanted to say with it. He is riding horses along the beach, perhaps, or building a house. I think after the novelty of movement wears off, he will pick up that guitar again, having realized that that he didn't miss all that much. I hope that wherever he is, he can finally feel all that love, coming down on him like rain.