EXPIRED: 12/25/09 – Vic Chesnutt, 45, had tried to take his life numerous times and has always failed. But today his flirtation with death finally took hold. A suicide attempt on the day before Christmas Eve put him in a coma, rumours swirled, and although he’s come out of suicidal comas before, this one ended the way he always wanted.
I thought Chesnut was a phenomenal talent and am genuinely saddened to write this obit.
Chesnutt was a gifted singer-songwriter known for his painful and poignant songs. He didn’t create party music. he didn’t create background music. Chesnutt created art. It was personal and powerful.
His latest CD, At the Cut, released just months ago, contains a cut called “Flirted With You All My Life” that speaks frankly about his frequent suicide attempts.
“I flirted with you all my life / even kissed you once or twice / to this day I swear it was nice / but clearly i was not ready”
Clearly, tonight he was ready.
The news about the singer’s condition first spread through the Internet on Wednesday through Twitter posts by former Throwing Muses singer Kristin Hersh, who has collaborated with Chesnutt. She wrote: “Another suicide attempt, looks bad, coma–if he survives, there may be brain damage” and “This time, it’s real scary: *this* time, he left a note, *this* time, he asked them to call me.”
Chesnutt has been in a wheelchair since a solo drunk driving accident left him a paraplegic at the age of 18. A songwriter since the age of 5, He was taught the guitar by his grandfather and relearned with minimal use of his hands after the accident. His immobility caused him a great deal of pain that he tried to squelch with alcohol and drugs. Rehab stints, combined with regular therapy for his condition and psychological therapy for his suicidal attempts – when he had medical insurance, which was rare – put him in regular financial ruin as well. He was sort of in a catch 22, owing $70k in hospital bills. In a recent interview Chesnutt said: “I was making payments, but I can’t anymore and I really have no idea what I’m going to do. It seems absurd they can charge this much. When I think about all this, it gets me so furious. I could die tomorrow because of other operations I need that I can’t afford. I could die any day now, but I don’t want to pay them another nickel.”
Chesnutt was discovered in the late ’80s by R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe, who produced his first two albums. Since then, Chesnutt has released 13 more albums, including two this year. Although I rarely list an artists entire catalog, I love Chesnutt so much I want to recommend them all. Start anywhere and pay tribute. My favorite is About to Choke, but they are all great.
- Little (1990)
- West of Rome (1991)
- Drunk (1993)
- Is the Actor Happy? (1995)
- About to Choke (1996)
- The Salesman and Bernadette (1998)
- Merriment (2000)
- Left to his Own Devices (2001)
- Silver Lake (2003)
- Ghetto Bells (2005)
- Extra Credit EP (2005)
- North Star Deserter (2007)
- Dark Developments (2008)
- At the Cut (2009)
- Skitter on Take-Off (2009)
Later Vic. Thanks for the great music. I hope you are at peace now.
To help his family defray the costs of his recent hospitalizations and death expenses there is a loving tribute page accepting donations set up by musician and friend Kristin Hersh: PLEASE HELP