By Kristin Hersh
“Friend, asshole, angel, mutant,” singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt “came alongside and made us gross and damaged humans appear . . . I dunno, cooler, I guess.” A quadriplegic who might play purely easy chords on his guitar, Chesnutt recorded seventeen significantly acclaimed albums ahead of his loss of life in 2009, together with approximately to Choke, North megastar Deserter, and on the lower. In 2006, NPR put him within the best 5 of the 10 top residing songwriters, besides Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Paul McCartney, and Bruce Springsteen. Chesnutt’s songs have additionally been coated via many renowned artists, together with Madonna, the Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M., Sparklehorse, Fugazi, and impartial Milk Hotel.
Kristin Hersh toured with Chesnutt for almost a decade and so they grew to become shut neighbors, bonding over a love of songwriting and mutual struggles with psychological healthiness. In Don’t Suck, Don’t Die, she describes many probably small moments they shared, their free-ranging conversations, and his tragic dying. extra memoir than biography, Hersh’s publication plumbs the resources of Chesnutt’s ache and creativity extra deeply than any traditional account of his lifestyles and recordings ever may. Chesnutt used to be obscure and often tricky to be with, yet, as Hersh finds him, he used to be additionally wickedly humorous and painfully perceptive. This intimate memoir is vital interpreting for an individual attracted to the song or the artist.
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Although I have backed away from focusing too much on Dylan’s image in American culture, an interesting topic in itself, I have tried to check my own evolving enthusiasms for and disappointments in Dylan as a public figure in considering his art—or at least, as in the chapter on the Philharmonic Hall concert in 1964, I have tried to acknowledge those feelings and incorporate them into my analysis. More an exercise in the historical appreciation of an artist’s work than a piece of conventional cultural criticism, the book dwells on some of the more interesting phases of Dylan’s career, and spends far less time on the less interesting ones.
After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entry into World War II allied with the Soviets, the Popular Front style began spreading out far beyond the political and cultural margins. Enlisted against the Axis powers, what had once been a sectarian leftist impulse now looked and sounded patriotic, unifying, and mainstream. The war became popularized as the fight of the common man—the ordinary, dog-faced GI foot soldier—to vindicate democracy, alongside the common men of the other Allies.