51. Mr. Mischievous (Tribute to Vic Chesnutt)


Still in Miami with one last four-hour show still to go…

Guy Capecelatro sent me this email a few weeks ago:

So one of the projects I’m doing for the RPM is a tribute to Vic Chesnutt.  He’s been an amazing inspiration over the years.  I actually got to open up for him in town about 18 years ago and have seen him play lots.  If you didn’t know, he killed himself about 5 weeks ago.
The project is to get folks to use the words I wrote and make a song of it.  I know some of your 365 songs have been outside source material so if you have any interest in taking a whack at let me know. If you do decide to make a song out of it please do feel free to make it your own.  Have your way with changing words, adding things, taking stuff away.  There will be ten versions so anything the more of yourself you can bring to it, all the better.  I’m most curious to hear what this becomes.
Plus today I made two more songs from your loops.  I’ll send them along tomorrow.  It’s quite a bit of pressure I feel with these as they’re so beautiful on they’re own and I don’t want to disappoint you.  Nervous!
Okay ma’am,
I should tell you right now, I have never really listened to Vic Chesnutt’s music before today.  Guy mentioned something about him a few weeks ago while I was in Portsmouth and played me a few seconds of his song “Flirted With You All My Life”.  He’s really great!  (Shame on me for being so out of the loop.  Man!)
I got home tonight at about 9:30 pm and passed out on a huge black bean bag chair: awesome!  I might get me one of these.  At 1 am I woke up and decided to get to work the song.  I have been traveling all day to the south and played my uke a little in the car while my dear friends Jason and Melanie drove around southern Miami.  Technically, I just realized, when I write at 1 am it’s actually the day after, but it’s all subjective.  I’m still counting it.
Recording/Writing: The writing of the melody of this song took place away from any instruments.  I usually find this method extremely helpful.  I wrote and recorded the cello part and the main vocal in about 30-45 minutes.  It was very fast.  I wonder if you’re asking yourself why I made this vocal style choice.  Well, I’m not sure what to tell you: as I sang the melody to find it, that’s what I started doing and kept it.  I like it.  Recording the other voices took time to record and line up and then I added a simple cello part.  I still think there are some holes in this song production-wise, but it’s so late (4:15 am!) that it’s good enough for song of the day.
For me, finding arrangements and melodies for other people’s words is usually sitting and looking at them for a minute and do it away from any instruments, like I just mentioned.  I look at the meter and play with different rhythms that the words might want to take on.  Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s not (see Sam McCormally’s song he emailed me for day 22 Vorarephilia).  In this case, for example, in the chorus there is the line “Didn’t I hear you say”.  The word “Didn’t” could have been a part of one entire line, but I decided to hook it in front of the beat instead of joined to the entire line.
Anyway, enough talk.   Just listen.  I hope you’ve scored yourself a sweet ice cream sandwich today: I did!

Mr. Mischievous (lyrics: Guy Capecelatro)

Lifted on the stage
Your mischievous eyes a flitter
You roll up to the mic
That booming voice sends shivers
You have us laughing
Then the dagger hits our chest
The places and the stories
We won’t soon forget
Didn’t I hear you say
Your sorrow seemed silly
Didn’t I hear you say
You weren’t quite ready
What a roller coaster you must have been on
Learned to play guitar
From you granddaddy in Zebulon
Running through the woods
Like a skinny Genghis Khan
You captured all those worlds
With a shrewd unflinching eye
And in the way you tell it
We feel like we’re inside
Didn’t I hear you say
Your sorrow seemed silly
Didn’t I hear you say
You weren’t quite ready
What a roller coaster you must have been on
Ain’t it funny and ironic
As a self-proclaimed atheist
You decide to leave this place
On the day of Christmas

2 thoughts on “51. Mr. Mischievous (Tribute to Vic Chesnutt)

  1. Pingback: 92. All The Good (Or When You’re in a Buick) – Julia Mecham « Emily Hope Price


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