I first heard about this guy around '95 or so. I used to be a HUGE REM fan and generally paid attention when they either recommended or worked with another artist. I can't remember what single it was but they covered a song of his called "Sponge"...it took me 3 days to download....and it wasn't that good....so why I ever gave him a second chance I'll never know. In Lynchburg, where I grew up, as well as Blacksburg, where I went to school there was a place called The Record Exchange. It was a chain to be sure, but it was a TINY chain...and it had TONS of used music. I found Blind Melon's "Soup" there for 3 bucks for f@#ks sake...and I found "About To Choke". I don't think I had even been in Lynchburg for a few years so I don't know why I was there or why I decided to stop by The Record Exchange that day...it was like I was drawn to it or something. I don't even remember looking for anything in particular. I hadn't read any reviews of the album, in fact, I didn't even know that it was out, so it was a little odd that out of everything in that store I went, almost directly, to the used CD bins, plucked up my $2 copy of "About To Choke" and was on my very way. Now? Now that albums is part of my musical DNA. It's not so much that I consider it an impressive album by any stretch of the imagination. It just creates this...mood....like you're sitting on a porch and it's sweltering outside and your buddy is sitting there beside you singing these sometimes ridiculous, but mostly fantastic songs...and you're drinking a beer, or a tea, and sweating and probably smoking.
I project a lot onto this album because those are the things that I was most likely to be doing while listening to it. For years it played nightly on my porch overlooking Monument Avenue or in Church Hill looking out over Libby park, until I gave it away to my friend Dan thinking that I could find a new copy pronto.
It went out of print.
I went without it for 3 or so years. But when I finally found a copy, I picked up his whole damn catalog in the process.. and it was all incredible. It was like winning the musical lottery, and while I don't feel there was a more consistent album after this one there were always nuggets that you could find to be some of the best songs ever written. Sure this guy got ALL of the respect but how was he not bigger? Why was he not selling out shows, big shows, everywhere he went. Maybe someday he'd get his due. Maybe someday..
.....or maybe not.....
Sadly, someday won't happen.
Vic Chesnutt succeeded in committing suicide on December 25 of last year. And I'm sad about that. Still. But on the plane ride back from Wisconsin after the new year I put on the final track of this album, "See You Around" and was able to smile a little bit knowing that he shared his tremendous talent with us for at least a little while.
Go ahead and download this. Listen to it a few times, and after you've done this and you've let it get under skin...go out and devour his entire catalog...he deserves it...and you'll be better for it.