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The way I see it: Vic Chesnutt

Vic Chesnutt, musician

Does art make a difference?
At the very least it makes a huge difference to the artist. But rock'n'roll changed the world - so did hip-hop.

Should politics and art mix?
Politics and art are mixed. Art developed and exists as it does today because of political patronage. From cave paintings and Stone Age Venus figurines to classical architecture, Byzantine church mosaics, Renaissance masterpieces and the entire National Portrait Gallery . . . it's all political propaganda. Then there is art as populism: Guernica, Goya, Mark Twain, Bob Dylan's "Masters of War", M*A*S*H. In the beginning, rock'n'roll was by its very nature political, populist propaganda.

Does money corrupt an artist?
Not if they are rich already. And frankly, sometimes when money and artists mix, great things happen. Of course, a hungry artist is very different from a sated one.

Is your work for the many or for the few?
Um, have you ever heard my music? I would say 20 years of doing my thing has proven it's for the few, no matter what be my wishes or pretensions, ha!

Which artist do you most admire?
To write it down seems strange and I tried hard for a long time, especially in the beginning, to resist his charms, but dammit, I think Basquiat is my favourite painter.

Which artist do you least admire?
Not a big fan of the King of Pop - may he rest in peace, though.

Which product, if any, would you advertise?
Almost anything. This is where money has corrupted me. I vehemently despise Wall Street but I'll take their evil money for a song.

If you weren't an artist, what would you be? Ask anyone - they'll tell ya. Dead.

If you were world leader, what would be your first law?
A tariff on corn syrup.

Who would be your top advisers?
Chicks and Juan Cole.

What would you censor? Pharmaceutical advertisements.

What would you legalise?
Drugs, prostitution, polygamy.

Who would you banish?
I don't think banishment is effective. Look at Napoleon.

What are the rules that you live by?
The entire Newtonian gamut.

What would you like your legacy to be?
I'm not sure yet what I want to be when I grow up. Maybe world leader!

Do you love your country?
Love/hate, you know the drill. Stockholm syndrome.

Are we all doomed?
Well, yes, every living cell on this planet is doomed, but the human race, as a species, like rats and cockroaches, will live for ever. Or until the sun explodes.

Vic Chesnutt's new album, "At the Cut" (Constellation), is released on 22 September

This article first appeared in the 07 September 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Meet the new progressives