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.