Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"In My Way, Yes"- Silver Lake, 2003 New West

The last song on Vic's 2003 release 'Silver Lake' is a lovely, poetic reflection on life, and an uncharacteristically direct admission of worthiness to those things that make it worthwhile.
The album, which garnered critical acclaim when it was released, is one of Vic's slickest productions, and was recorded, essentially live, over a two week period, at the historic Paramour Mansion in Silver Lake, California.

Oxford American magazine once said that "Where Bruce Springsteen was born to run, Vic Chesnutt was born to curl up in a ball and cry." On previous releases, that may hold true. However, Silver Lake is a far cry from that declaration. In fact, the songs on Silver Lake are less dirges and more anthems. The song is an open conversation between Vic and what he playfully referred to as his 'Greek Chorus.'

"(In My Way, Yes) is a love song," Vic uttered in an introduction of
this song in Knoxville, TN, in 2003.

The crowd "Awwwwed."

"Well," Vic continued. "At least there's some fuckin' in it!"

Again, the crowd reacted. This time with 'whoops' and laughter.

"There's also some songwriting going on in there, so don't confuse the two, or else, you make me sound like a pervert, or you might think I'm a pervert."

"Never!" retorted a female spectator.

"We love you Vic!" and "We love perverts!" shouts also fill the air.

Despite Vic's tossed off intro, he was correct. There is indeed some songwriting happening in this song. The first stanzas in this song relate to the the creative process, and the technique and dedication needed to produce something artistic or worthwhile. When the chorus asks Vic if he thinks it makes a difference to the outcome, his response is "Yes."

Secondly, Vic focuses on relationships, and the intimacy involved. Poetically, he addresses the physicality of the act of love. When asked if he feels silly (or embarrassed) of course he says "No."

The last stanza of this song focuses on finding happiness in the smallest things. Again, a question is posed, as to whether he deserves happiness. Without question, Vic answers correctly.

I find this song to be an emotional upswing for Vic. He finally has come to the realization that he deserves the happiness, success and love that he has been blessed with. Honestly, during that time, Vic was the most pleasant, and charming that I think I've ever seen him. Things seemed to be good in his life, and this song is a direct acclamation of that fact.

It's unfathomably sad the way things ended up with Vic, but I take comfort in the knowledge that he, for a brief moment, at least, was able to find solace and be happy in the fact that he was, and is, deserving of such things.

I've attached two songs below. The first is the studio cut for the album. It's beautiful, and uplifting. The second is a demo version, with a sparse arrangement and an unfinished feel. The demo comes from a book of poetry entitled "Isn't It Romantic- 100 Love Poems By Younger American Poets." The book came with a bonus CD which included the track, as well as songs by Doug Martsh, Chuck Prophet, The Silver Jews and Magnolia Electric Co.

Here's the studio cut.

And the demo.


Do you think it makes a difference?
I say yes

Taking my time
Working on lines
Fingers in clay

Head in the clouds
Moving my mouth
Spreading the grout
That's holding it down

Do you think it makes a difference?
I say yes
In my life yes

Cuddling up
Declarations of love
Squeeze and a hug
A kiss and a rub

Faces opposed
Eyelids closed
Nuzzling nose
Like eskimos

Don't'cha' feel silly?
I say no
With my love no

I never ever thought
I'd ever have a life like this
I never dreamed
I'd be alive
I never considered
Such as these surroundings
Effectually pulling it off

Watching the cops go by
Seeing a falcon fly
Reading a history book
Wetting a tiny hook

Driving fast all night
Bursting into song at first light
Sharing breakfast from one plate
Holding hands over loved ones graves

Do you think you deserve it
I Say Yes
In my way Yes


  1. It is very special that he was able to feel this way in one point of his life at least. All of us should be so lucky.

  2. I really love the song, the description in the 2nd verse is so simple and yet poetic. The whole song is so positive and light, so very unlike Vic somehow. Which is bad I guess. I wished he could have been that happy for longer.

  3. Chesnutt songs containing words never sung before (that I know of, anyway):

    Song Word
    In My Way, Yes. grout (the dentist drill must count for something, too)