Tag Archives: Ghetto Bells

Flirted With You All My Life – the passing of Vic Chesnutt

On Christmas day, when heads were counted, the world was one short… the genius of Vic Chestnutt was no longer with us. 

 

I discovered the intensely poetic music of Chesnutt in the last few years, courtesy of the 2005 album Ghetto Bells. It’s raw immediacy, kicked me hard and I was captured. I hadn’t heard a voice so honest in many years; Vic’s straight-up drawl, battered guitar lines and hard-won wisdom resonated from the opening note of Virginia and didn’t let up until long after album closer Gnats had played. The album came back to me in the quiet moments, snatches of lyric firing my synapses and stinging my heart:

I am trying to stitch this one to all the rest of them
But the seams will split, collide and cleave
Neopolitan ice cream is never truly integrated until it’s too late

‘from Vesuvius’

the schemer looked down upon the screamer
like buried treasure
he nursed me and cherished me
and trained me to be
what is here in front of you
a ticket to see, a ticket to see
fate has been so good to me
you may not understand
how I can be thankful to be where I am
to be where I am

‘from Ignorant People’

And earlier this year, I had the immense pleasure of seeing Vic play at The Troubador (see earlier post The World Is A Sponge). He was mesmeric, and seeing him only deepened my love and respect for his music. The last few years had been intensely creative, in fact since recording his debut, Little in 1990 (with the help of REM’s Micheal Stipe), Chesnutt had never been content to rest on past achievements releasing more than a dozen solo albums and collaborating on many others. Described as ‘prolific, profound, and ever full of potty-mouthed piss-and-vinegar – Vic Chesnutt is Prometheus in a wheelchair’. His contribution to the world will always be cherished and his all-to-early death at 45, forever mourned.

To close, here’s the haunting track from Vic’s most recent album, At The Cut, I Flirted With You All My Life, described as a break-up letter to his own suicidal thoughts.

More news is available via his record label, Constellation Records.

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The World is a Sponge… a night with Vic Chestnutt

vic-chestnutt

 

Last night I had the extreme pleasure of witnessing American underground legend, Vic Chestnutt playing his sparse blend of warts & all folk rock at The Troubadour. From the get go, this was always going to be something special… Vic touting that he was going to take us through his back catalogue, playing a song from each album, opening with Mr Reilly off his 1990 debut Little. With only his battered acoustic and voice, the poetry of his lyrics cut straight through…

well there’s a Mr. Reilly who swears
that in Baton Rouge Louisiana,
they don’t care about, his philosophy
he swears that any time in Baton Rouge
everything is the same

Then it was on to 1991’s West of Rome and the song Sponge with Chestnutt howling,

and when the crisis passes
when the coast is clear
I’ll be buffed down to a liquid
and the world, world, world it is a sponge

We were also treated to Supernatural (from 1993’s, Drunk), Gravity of the Situation (from 1995’s Is the Actor Happy?) and closer, Florida (West of Rome), with Vic aptly joking, that over here, you could change Florida to Gold Coast and have it ring true.

Florida, Florida, the redneck riviera
Florida, Florida, there’s no more pathetic place in America

I bantered with Vic to have him play Vesuvius, but hey, you can’t have everything. If you have never had the pleasure check out these lyrics…

 

Vesuvius

Trying to clip the creek to the bank with a clothes pin
Waterlogged system, rusty spring, faulty planning
Logic squeezed out like mustard at a corndog
Hypertension is not wisdom, chewing the leather straps
Trying to hold the sun still with a bobby pin
Burned fingers. excellent conductor of heat
Private fantasies are not public policy
Christian charity is a doily over my death boner
Busy work is not the Great Wall of China
Vanity bamboo hut out back behind the big house
Pretend is salve for whitey-boy guilt
Furiously slapping at the moon with a cane pole
Trying to prop up the heavens with a fresh flat pencil
Some folks are allergic to rubber
I am trying to stitch this one to all the rest of them
But the seams will split, collide and cleave
Neopolitan ice cream is never truly integrated until it’s too late
Trying to stop the bleeding with scotch tape
Platelets spoil adhesion, fire up the cauterizing iron
It’s a branding of necessity not scarification
Bliss was a pimple that I tried to pop
It erupted up and out on my countenance
Ugly eruption, Vesuvius, ugly eruption, Vesuvius
Ugly eruption, Vesuvius
Vesuvius at myself, Vesuvius at myself

 

For all those who saw the show (and there were not enough of them…), I am sure they are like me, smiling, dusting off the records and singing duets with Vic, loud enough for the neighbour’s to hear.

And for those who don’t have any records to sing along with, check out these four clips detailing the making of his classic 2005 album, Ghetto Bells… great stuff.

Ghetto Bells part 1

Ghetto Bells part 2

Ghetto Bells part 3

Ghetto Bells part 4

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