New Orleans is a Good City

New Orleans is a good city to cry in, I guess. It’s messed up and overflowing, like I am right now. I don’t like to cry in front of people – or at all – but walking my dog at sunset starts me thinking. Or feeling. Or whatever it is that makes tears flow. And I don’t really see anybody but Hubert, the neighbor with thirteen kids who always waves and tells me that he loves me and god blesses me. Nice things to say to a crying person.

I was amazed that there is still a moon, that snow falls, that birds are still pretty without Vic. ‘Cause they are. Sort of extra pretty, even. But I was right to be amazed. I know that the guy I see through a second story window, pouring cereal for dinner under fluorescent lights, thinks that’s what he’s doing, but I know better. This world is pretend.

People at the funeral told me I’d start talking to him and I have, but really, I never stopped talking to him. I can’t call him anymore, though, so my lips just start moving. Not to give him shit, which is what people said my lips would do. Just to clarify. To replay and articulate, to fix every misunderstanding and explain every confusing thing I ever did or said. I wish I’d spelled everything out on my goddamn forehead when I had the chance, ’cause clarity is everything. But then, so is music and we had plenty of that.

And we still do. Music is still bewitching, even in this pretend world without a Vic in it. And the moon in Athens was blue as it raced across the sky (can Vic move the moon now?), the snow in New England was breathtaking, miraculous, and there are perfect birds everywhere. Everything sparkles.

Over the past few months, there have been several wonderful events held in tribute to my late friend Vic Chesnutt. I haven’t been able to bring myself to attend any of them.

I was lucky enough to play a lot of shows with Vic over the years, though, and here are two songs from one of my favorites. That night we sat there, side by side trading songs for a couple of hours that felt like a couple of minutes. With no preparation, Vic decided to play piano. Just because there was one on-stage. What the hell? So, so beautiful.

Mine: Hungry
Vic’s: I’m Through (which he was calling “Pepe Lopez” at that time)
[audio:’m Through.mp3]

This was the last time I saw Vic - photo: Chris Owyoung

This was the last time I saw Vic - photo: Chris Owyoung

Posted in: words on March 17, 2010