Monday, December 28, 2009

Vic Chesnutt -- Loss of a Brilliant Southern Voice

I once saw Vic Chesnutt perform in Athens, Ga., at the 40 Watt Club circa 1988 and he introduced one of his pieces this way: "Here's a song about my father's funeral, so drink up!" His lyrics and music often had a dark, piercing humor, combining hardship and hilarity in brilliant lines unlike any songs or poems I know, a literary quality up on the highest level, like a singing Faulkner or O'Connor. His newest album "At the Cut," includes the final song "Granny," which closes with the words: "And she said, 'You are the light of my life, and the beat of my heart.'" It's a perfect poetic line, and an example of the great body of work -- 15 albums in all -- he left behind when he died, only 45, on Christmas day. I saw him perform a number of times and met him once, introduced at a Bob Dylan show by my good friend Mark Williams. Mark knew him well and even played in a band with him for brief while, and has written an excellent tribute to him.

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