The Lonesome Cut Up
Chalet Comellas-Baker and Clint Sleeper
The Lonesome Cut Up, is a conceptual sculpture that consists of an LED programmable sign, that displays a scrolling poem on loop. This poem was composed by deconstructing and reassembling the words included in the song lyrics, ‘I’m so lonesome I could cry’ written by legendary songwriter Hank Williams Sr., in 1949.
Creating a new work through the process of collage is referred to as a “cut up” and has been traditionally used by song writers, including Williams for many years. It’s done to reconfigure lyrical structures and musical arrangements and spark an idea towards creating a new song.
For this piece, we referenced this technique and added an additional factor of technological mediation. The lyrics were run through an html program built by Clint, hand coded to randomly break apart the lyrics of the song and reconfigure them.
Within our separate art practices our work intersects with issues related to the environment and climate. The use of birds and birdsong in Williams lyrics to evoke the feeling of loss within a specific place was very compelling.
Famously the song begins, “Hear that Lonesome Whippoorwill”, so I decided to research the number of Whippoorwills sighted in Nashville, home base for the country music industry, ranging from 1949 to present, to see if there was a coralation between urban growth and native bird populations. Research from Tennessee Ornithological Journals point out that as Music City has grown over the years the population of Whippoorwills has steadily declined.