A Life of Music and Triumph

In cultureShock, Entertainment by Erich Cella

The celebrity nature of the music industry and grotesque self promotion of talentless figureheads is dragging every upcoming artist right through the mud but there is always a revolutionary out there to lead the way.

There are a few bright spots shining through the cluster of dark clouds but the public has been deliberate in recognizing the abundance of unknown talents.

These undiscovered artists possess the potential to dazzle millions with their inimitable view on culture and can influence timid musicians to realize their ability instead of leaving them to shy away from music at a young age.

This article is not just going to be a propagandist editorial on the erosion of pop culture but more like a celebration of an inspirational music machine, Vic Chesnutt.

Vic Chenutt can best be described musically, as a cross between Ben Harper and Johnny Cash. He infuses his folk sensibilities with his intensity and irreverence and combines it to create a perfectly thoughtful but uncompromising sound.

There’s also elements of blues, rock and a touch of country but it’s nearly impossible for him to get tied down by one genre. His inspirational lyrics and difficult to decipher messages make him a complete musician but that’s only part of he story of how Vic Chesnutt became an untouchable song writer for his time.

As a young boy, Vic Chesnutt, was seduced by his musical upbringing after being adopted and being moved to Georgia at the age of five. His maternal grandmother played guitar while his paternal grandmother would write the bulk of the lyrics and would play folk songs for Vic when he was a young boy.

Even at such a young age his rich family background and exposure to simple folk songs influenced him to write his own songs before he reached double digits in age. He became so fascinated with all the intricacies associated with music, that he even started playing the trumpet at the age of nine.

Not just satisfied with the subdued strumming of folk guitar, he would turn his attention to a more forceful, in your face assault, as he began listening to Kiss and the Doobie Brothers at the impressionable age of 13.

At 16, he was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play trumpet in a cover band with a group of 30 year olds. Like most brilliant songwriters though, Vic would also become flustered by the creativity seeping and oozing from The Beatles and couldn’t help but dream of a day when he could wield his own guitar.

Vic would eventually receive a guitar as a Christmas gift in 1980 but it would come at a time when Vic was grieving the loss of a musical legend, John Lennon. His tastes lengthened as he grew older and more savvy, picking up nuances from bands including, The Clash and REM. The Velvet Underground was also influential in capturing his energy and exploiting his soulful but restless heart.

With the wealth of pioneers taking up space in his record collection, it only made sense that it launched his musical expedition and opened his mind, while exposing his favorable personality traits.

It was very easy to conceive that Vic Chesnutt was going to take the next step to Stardom and emulate all of his heroes on stage for many years to come.

In 1982 his life would take a turn for the worse, as Vic Chesnutt would loose his ability to walk and he also suffered a brain injury after being involved in a devastating car accident. His ability to play music would be affected as he discovered that he would have to give up the trumpet and almost had to give up playing the guitar but it would not stand in the way of his career and his ability to belt out stirring folk songs.

Instead of turning his back and feeling apathetic, his optimism and constructive attitude enabled him to think of music in a whole new perspective.

He started to include the synthesizer and had the time to sharpen his song writing skills and propel himself to start writing records. He would eventually begin playing guitar again after a long hard rehabilitation.

There would still be a profusion of bumps in the road throughout his life, even as his career has taken off into uncharted territory. Even while opening for headline acts such as Soul Asylum and The Goo Goo Dolls, he would experience more medical trauma and have to overcome more obstacles, at such a fragile time in his career, but he was resilient and was not intimidated by his circumstances.

The death of his mother, father, and paternal grandmother are grim reminders that tragedy and loss are part of life but overcoming these obstacles can make you a stronger person.

The passing of his paternal grandmother was a huge blow to Vic Chesnutt but he along with all other music fans can be thankful for the gifts she passed down to her grandson. It’s not too often that you hear of a disabled musical icon, but for those who haven’t been fortunate enough to witness his mastery now can discover the treasures he provided as all of his albums are being re-mastered and put out on the shelves so that everyone can soak up and enjoy his transcendent material.

I wish I could describe his overall sound but it was more important for me to showcase his bravery and fortitude. The trials and tribulations of most undiscovered artists are not appreciated enough in this instant gratification society but with all the muck clogging up the airways its refreshing to see someone work his through so many tragedies and gain a respected following.

He may not sell many copies but his peers admire the brilliance and perseverance he brings to the table.
Have you heard his music? Let us know. Email us at nathasha@audacitymagazine.com or join the Online Forum.