In May of 1994 I moved to San Diego from Auburn, CA. I was a small town kid in a big (at least I thought it was big then) city. The first thing I did was grab a Reader and look up what concerts were coming. I was 17 and had never been to a show alone before, but I didn’t know anyone and I needed something to do.
The first show I came across was Live at the World Beat Center with Vic Chesnutt and Angelfish. Mental Jewelry was one of my favorite albums at the time and Throwing Copper had just been released. I was so excited. So excited and nervous that I got to the venue about 3 hours early because I thought I might get lost.
The nice security people let me in for soundcheck after seeing me pace and chain smoke cigarettes in the parking lot for 2 hours. This is when I met Vic. He was there in his wheelchair watching the soundcheck as well. I thought he was just another fan and had a brief conversation with him about Live’s new album. That was it.
Angelfish came on, then Vic took the stage with his band. I was shocked that he was the opening band. He hadn’t mentioned anything. I have to be honest, I don’t remember his set. I had never heard of him and I was just waiting for Live.
15 years later I saw Ed Kowalczkz of Live do a solo show at the Bijou Theater in Knoxville, TN. Ed referred to Vic as one of the greatest songwriters of our time before covering a couple of his songs. It brought me back to that night in San Diego.
On Christmas day Vic purposely overdosed on muscle relaxants. He was in a coma before he passed away. He had just turned 45.
I was never a huge fan of Vic, but that’s because I was never really exposed to his work again until recently. Last year one of my favorite songs was Teddy Bear, a collaboration between him and Elf Power. Then this year he released At The Cut which wasn’t one of my favorite albums of the year but did catch my attention more than once.
I will be going into his back catalogue throughout the year and see what gems I can pull out and share with you. But for now, here is his ode to death…