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Richard Downes - disability arts online
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Disability Arts Online

Sad Americana / 3 May 2012

A couple of years ago just around christmas time I lost in quick succession and no longer in any order Vic Chesnutt, Mark Linkous and Jack Rose - 3 musicians that constantly delighted me.

 

Vic and Mark went through suicide. Jack a heart attack.

 

I was reminded of this listening to Lambchop's Mr M, their latest album, dedicated to the memory of Vic. Some at DAO will remember Vic has a wheelchair user. I remember, reading an unsympathetic review of one of his albums in DAIL (Disability Arts In London). He was criticised for not singing about disability. I think the album was Silver Lake. Seems to me that he sang about life from the perspective of a disabled person but never labelled, never specified, never defined the reaason for his hurt, his slant on love. There are artists who sing songs that put me in mind of institutional lawns. Vic did that. Nick Drake being another - though Nick's lawns probably referred to school or college; the institutions that he knew best after family.

 

Nick is purported to have been a manic depressive. Which is a link that takes me from Vic to Mark Linkous. Vic, Mark and Nick. A holy trinity of  songwriters. Mark was the guiding light behind Sparklehorse whose mournful music enchanted me and took me off to dream land. The man was well connected. Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, David Lynch, Danger Mouse, The Cardigans all guested on his albums as might have Michael Stipe, another friend of Vic's.

 

Jack Rose was not a singer songwriter. He was simply the best of current guitarists working in a rustic, rural folk idiom. You could compare him with John Fahey, Sandy Bull, Robbie Basho, Michael Chapman and Peter Walker. He died of an heart attack at the age of 38. I was amazed at how old he was. Yet 38 is nothing. Its just he seemed to take a long, long time to get established. Though he had a prior career with; I think Pelt, who I am yet to explore. I don't even know if he was a disabled person. I just know his music and the rough time of his passing.

 

Like Vic, Mark and Jack never seemed to explore impairment in a laboured, labelled, this is what its like kind of way. But if you listen in, if you are drawn in, i think you'll find something there. Sadness and celebration. A difference. A diversity of ideas. Possible references. Feeling and feelings.

 

I think its worth it. One day i'm going to review their work just to see what comes out. In the meantime should anyone want to follow these leads I hope you find pleasure like i did.

 

Here's some videos

Vic Chesnutt and Lambchop

Dangermouse & Sparklehorse feat. Vic Chestnutt

Nick Drake

Jack Rose

Keywords: ,vic chesnutt