This is part five of a ten-part series. Here are parts one, two, three, and four.
Vic Chesnutt's death on Christmas Day is clearly going down as one of the major low-lights of 2009. To be perfectly frank, it was devastating to find myself in the position of having to announce this terrible this news during my shift on KEXP that afternoon. The reality that we've lost such an incisive, imaginative and vital songwriter and performer is a painful hit I probably still haven't fully absorbed. I have not been this deeply affected by the death of a musician since Kurt Cobain died.
However, as Chesnutt's friend, filmmaker and sometime-producer Jem Cohen made clear in his eloquent post on the Constellation Records website, "The most important story to report now is not Vic's death but a life and work overflowing with insight, humor, and yes, resilience. This, after all, was the man who wrote: 'I thought I had a calling, anyway, I just kept dialing'."
At the Cut is a startling, difficult and beautiful piece of work that dramatically shows off a man that had found that calling. The performance of the song "Coward" towards the end of his set at the Crocodile last month was unforgettably harrowing, and it's definitely one of the album's highlights. I wish I had video to offer from that show, but none has surfaced at this time. Sound clip is after the jump.