Don't Suck, Don't Die

Don't Suck, Don't Die

Giving up Vic Chesnutt

Book - 2015
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Friend, asshole, angel, mutant, singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt came along and made us gross and broken people seem . . . I dunno, cooler, I guess. A quadriplegic who could play only simple chords on his guitar, Chesnutt recorded seventeen critically acclaimed albums before his death in 2009, including About to Choke , North Star Deserter , and At the Cut . In 2006, NPR placed him in the top five of the ten best living songwriters, along with Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Paul McCartney, and Bruce Springsteen. Chesnutt's songs have also been covered by many prominent artists, including Madonna, the Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M., Sparklehorse, Fugazi, and Neutral Milk Hotel.

Kristin Hersh toured with Chesnutt for nearly a decade and they became close friends, bonding over a love of songwriting and mutual struggles with mental health. In Don't Suck, Don't Die , she describes many seemingly small moments they shared, their free-ranging conversations, and his tragic death. More memoir than biography, Hersh's book plumbs the sources of Chesnutt's pain and creativity more deeply than any conventional account of his life and recordings ever could. Chesnutt was difficult to understand and frequently difficult to be with, but, as Hersh reveals him, he was also wickedly funny and painfully perceptive. This intimate memoir is essential reading for anyone interested in the music or the artist.

Publisher: Austin : University of Texas Press, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780292759473
Characteristics: xv, 179 pages :,illustrations ;,19 cm

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lukasevansherman
Feb 05, 2016

"Those heroes you men were? They were the angels."
Vic Chesnutt was something of a cult musician who put out over a dozen albums of cracked, lyrical music that reflected his bleak, but insightful worldview. He was partially paralyzed in a car accident when he was 18 and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, but he was still able to play the guitar. While he never had much mainstream success, other musicians like Michael Stipe, who produced 2 of his albums, and Fugazi were big fans. Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses was good friends and touring mates with Chesnutt and this small, but profound book is about the difficulty of being friends with a brilliant, but hardly easy man. Much of it is dialogue and it does presuppose some familiarity with Chesnutt's life and work. It is a unusually intimate portrait that avoids the rock and roll cliches. Ultimately, it's heartbreaking as Chesnutt, for all his talent, killed himself at the age of 45.

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