Vic Chesnutt

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In 1990 I saw Vic Chesnutt play at the Knitting Factory in New York. When we sat down - we were a little early - he was doing a soundcheck. He was in a wheelchair, and getting himself situated just right took some time, so when the soundcheck was done he didn’t leave the stage. Instead, with the microphones turned off, he played some songs softly to himself, as if he were backstage rather than on stage. We were sitting close and heard him sing these lyrics:

“‘I’ve been walkin' these streets so long, singin' the same old song
I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway”

The way he sang them they sounded like lyrics to one of his own songs. It wasn’t until he got to the chorus that we realized it was Rhinestone Cowboy.

The show he did was great, but it’s the 15 minutes of him sitting there before the show started that stays with me. And I’ll always think of him when I hear that song.

An exercise

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I miss my morning green tea. Decaffeinated tea is hollow. Empty. It tastes like absence.

The heater is on. I want to go upstairs and turn it off but I am resisting. Stay put and keep writing. I also want to see what the date is today, but I don’t want to turn on my phone or computer. This is an exercise in discipline. Possibly also an exercise in futility.

Happy times I can remember… mostly vacations. Usually involving water. A lake or a beach.

The things that you do

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All the times that I came to you
with a thorn in my heart
and you held me in your arms
all the times

All the ways that you showed me
what it means to be true
not by words
but the things that you do
all the ways

It’s the call of the ocean
the pull of the sea
a light from the sky through the tallest of trees
it’s a whisper that wakes me from sleep
it comes down from the heavens
up from the ground
a touch of your hand
without a sound
its everything I need
its everything to me

All the love that I feel
when I look in your eyes
every day
and all through the night
all the love
all the love

Something eventually will happen

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Joseph Campbell, from The Power of Myth:

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.