by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Vic Chesnutt died on Christmas Day. He was a songwriter who lived in Athens, Georgia. He wrote one of my favourite songs of this year, a song about flirting with death, a song where he sang with forceful life: "No, I am not ready." I don't know what to do with the fact that now he is gone. I do not know whether to be sad. Maybe he was ready.

No, listen, I have to be honest: I'm so angry. I'm not sad. I'm angry. Angry at a healthcare system, yes, that betrays its citizens. Angry at Vic Chesnutt, for leaving us. But more than anything, angry at those black moments, those tiny fucking black moments, like cinders, that alight on your shoulders and cloak the stars and let life seem so easy to wink out. I don't believe in fate, or justice, or a natural order. Those black moments don't come because they're deserved. They happen because they fucking happen: the way 2:59pm happens, the way December 25th happens, the way one morning you wake up and you feel like shit. They're like the opposite of wonders. They are small, mundane dooms. And for all the loves, friendships, treatments, medications, songs and stories, there will always be some of these small dooms left, winging.

I am not as familiar with Vic Chesnutt as I wish I were. He recorded 16 albums in less than 20 years, four in the last two. His songs were so rich - wild and peppered. I listened to them one at a time. They made me feel ugly, sometimes; or very beautiful. They reminded me of the dooms. But also they reminded me of life, of perseverence and celebration (and also more modest things: petty grievances, urban folklore, girls in gingham dresses).

I do hope that maybe, somehow, somewhere, in some manner I am not quite able to believe in, Vic Chesnutt is at peace and dancing. These past days, I have been unable to listen to his music. I am unable to now, and so there is no dandy mp3 for you here. (Those who do not know Vic's work, look here, here, here, here.) But I suppose I have the rest of my life to listen to his songs. And I will try to chase away those black moments when I glimpse them. I will go into rooms and say: Get. I will light fires where fires have gone out. I will furiously try, for Vic and all the others.

Please donate to Vic Chesnutt's family.

Posted by Sean at December 29, 2009 12:04 AM


Posted by BMR at December 29, 2009 9:08 AM

I'm going to check out his music now :)

Posted by Modern Zen at December 29, 2009 12:55 PM

this is awful, and it makes me sad. i was just talking about vic chesnutt to someone the other day, on christmas, maybe. about how wonderful he was. about how his music had changed my life.

Posted by Samantha at December 29, 2009 1:14 PM

Well said, Sean. Rest In Peace, Vic. And readers, donate if you can.

Posted by David Belbin at December 29, 2009 1:22 PM

I don't understand : why would you give money to his family ?

Posted by derp herp. at December 29, 2009 1:26 PM

I have assumed that it's to cover his still outstanding $30,000 in hospital debt. (Let alone his funeral.)

Posted by Sean at December 29, 2009 1:42 PM

How heartbreaking to see him go when I was just getting to know his work. Rest in peace, Vic, your music is lovely.

Posted by Heather at December 29, 2009 1:51 PM

thanks sean.

as someone who has gone through the horrors vic has, i understand his choice all too well. i always wonder what would happen if i ran out of money and help, truly felt like i was burden on others all the time rather than some of the time, even on those that love me most. i understand why he chose death. i'm just so sad that he did. it's so hard to live this life as it is. may his family and friends - he sure had good, if not rich, ones - find peace.

Posted by trina at December 29, 2009 6:15 PM

Thanks for this post :)
From the european point of view, it's hard to believe that things like this can happen in a civilised country.

I really hope he is somewhere at peace and dancing. Or just happy.

Posted by Mrs Jones at December 30, 2009 6:19 PM

"I have assumed that it's to cover his still outstanding $30,000 in hospital debt"

Oh, ok. Thanks for your answer, Sean.

Posted by derp herp. at December 30, 2009 6:41 PM

thank you sean

vic was a tormented genius, it is true- but he was also wickedly funny as well as a beautifully soulful poet

somewhere he is free now, and flying

Posted by rb at December 30, 2009 8:58 PM

Sean, your words above are some comfort, and I wonder, too, when I can listen again. I feel like I should but can't. His music always seemed to champion strength over those dark dark impulses. It's hard to believe someone who could provide such comfort to others couldn't find it himself.

Posted by Chandler at December 30, 2009 9:00 PM

I was there for that first video you posted. It was shot a month before he died in Saskatoon in a house. It was one of the best shows I have ever been to.
The show was being filmed for a Saskatchewan TV show called Neighbor's Dog.
The sound was really loud, but it was that great balance of loud where it is uncomfortable, but not painful. I'm not too sure when the show is actually airing, but you can get more info on this website:

Posted by april at January 1, 2010 6:36 PM

Thanks for words Sean. They summed up exactly how I too was feeling about his death.

Posted by The Speakers at January 5, 2010 7:05 PM

I too, was in the beginning phases of delving deeper into Vic's long and illustrious career when I'd gotten the news. The day before I'd purchased "At the Cut" and was listening to "When the Bottom Fell Out" (one of my favorites from that album) when I saw it. One of the saddest moments of my life. It's as sad as thinking about how we'd gotten to a Jay Reatard in-store too late and the show was over but managed to glimpse him hanging outside the venue (Atomic Records) - both of which are gone now as well. It's been a sad past few weeks for some of the musicians that inspired me the most as a musician and as a writer. However, it MUST be said, that this entire post was absolutely bursting with some of the greatest writing I've ever seen in a blog and for that, even if it was prompted by an unfortunate loss, I applaud and thank you. It was truly beautiful and a fitting tribute to a man who deserved, and understood, each and every word.

Posted by Steven S at January 16, 2010 4:43 AM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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