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- Posted on Dec 24th 2009 5:14PM by Benjy Eisen
News about Chesnutt's condition initially spread via Twitter by his friend and fellow singer-songwriter Kristin Hersh, who sent out the following tweet on Thursday: "Yeah, I can tell you what I know but no one knows much: another suicide attempt, looks bad, coma -- if he survives, there may be brain damage." An hour later, Hersh wrote, "This time, it's real scary: *this* time, he left a note, *this* time, he asked them to call me."
Chesnutt, 45, was a paraplegic since the age of 18 and struggled with unending health problems which led to unruly hospital bills. He told Spinner earlier this year that "right now, I am in huge trouble in that the hospital is suing me for $35,000 for payment, which is terrifying -- and the rub is that I have health insurance."
His most recent album, 'At the Cut,' featured members of Fugazi, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra. Like virtually all of Chesnutt's songs, the subjects dealt with pain, suffering, mortality and desertion.
Chesnutt first grabbed national attention in 1996 when his songs were covered by an impressive list of musicians -- including Madonna, R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins and Indigo Girls -- on a compilation for Sweet Relief, an organization benefiting musicians without health insurance. Chesnutt was grateful for the exposure but told Spinner, "When I talked to Sweet Relief about my problem recently, they were just like 'Woah, that's too big of a problem for us. You're going to have to talk to somebody else about that.'"
Our thoughts go out to Chesnutt, his family and friends during this difficult time.