Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why I Hold on to Records

A few years ago I picked up Vic Chesnutt's North Star Deserter after listening to an interview with Chesnutt on Fresh Air. I listened to it once and shelved it. I just didn't get it. Last night I pulled it off the shelf and listened to it again a second time. My reaction was completely different this time around. I found the album deeply moving, powerful, and darkly humorous.

The history of music is littered with tragic stories of misfits, lost souls, and ill-fated characters. Even in this context, Chestnutt's life is particularly tragic. After a car accident left him paralyzed as a teenager, he tried to make the best of it as creative artist. He turned to poetry and music, but in the end he gave into the sad fate of life by taking his life. His struggles are plainly expressed in his songs. Sometimes you get it. Sometimes you don't.

Take this song for example. At times it strikes me as simply bad. At other times, it's deeply moving. I count a number of Chesnutt's songs as among those mercurial songs that seem to reflect the state of your soul.

1 comment:

  1. The lyrics are ridiculous - "pimento cheese"? - but what a powerful performance! Somewhere in my disorganized collection, I have "Sweet Relief II". I remember enjoying it back in the day, but haven't heard it in a decade. This post makes me want to dig it out.