Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vic Chesnutt “Flirted With You All My Life”

Of the many musical passings that I’ve heard about over the years, for one reason or another, the ones that have struck me the most have been the ones I heard on the radio in the car.

Certainly, since about a third of my life is spent inside the walls of a radio station, my memories of getting the news of this person or that person dying, are closely tied to radio.

But the couple I really remember, have been in the car.

I was with my Mom and my sister Julie, coming home from Logan Airport after a trip to Disney World, when I learned about Stevie Ray Vaughn’s death. Hearing his music that day was really the beginning of my understanding of how important his guitar playing was.

I got the news of Bob Stinson death (who was the guitarist for my favorite band, the Replacements), as I was pulling away from the radio station that I worked at in Virginia, at midnight, just after my shift. I actually ran back inside from the parking lot, to confirm what I had heard on the ABC Newsbrief.

Is it something about the safety, the womb-ness of a car that makes radio news so indelible? I’m not sure. I just seems to be, for me.

This past weekend, on the radio, I got the news about Vic Chesnutt.

I was down in Newport, spending a couple of post-Holiday days with family, and I had been dispatched to the grocery store, to make sure we had breakfast food for the following morning. After several days of caroling to and fro, visiting all our relatives, engulfed in the madness of the season, this was the first moment of peace I’d had in a while. I was in the car, by myself, alone on the wet streets of Newport, in the post-Christmas quiet.

I was flipping the dial as I drove. I like to check out the local public radio stations whenever I’m on the road.

“We’re starting out the show with some sad news,” the announcer said.

They didn’t have a lot of information, only that he had been in a coma for a short time, and had died, due to an overdose. Intentional or not? They weren’t sure.

I wrote a little about Vic in an earlier post. Knowing that he had struggled with depression his whole life, I guess it’s not a shock that he left us this way.

But despite his physical and mental troubles, he was incredibly prolific. He’d put out two records just this Fall.

And strangely, one of those records had a song called “Flirted With You All My Life,” which he had called his break-up song with suicide. He sang like he was ready to start living.

There are many tributes and obits out there worth reading, if you’re not familiar with the man, his songs or his story, but this one has a wonderful Vic quote. And Vic Chesnutt was a highly quotable man. Check out his lyrics, but I’m glad he left me with this thought about his career, which I think can apply to all of us who live a creative life:

“I thought I had a calling. Anyway I just kept dialing.”

See him perform the song in concert, here

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for writing this. I have not been listening to the news lately and so did not know. Thank you also for the link. Joanne P.