Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why Ask Why

The death of famed Windham Hill records artist Michael Hedges in late November 1997 was brought to mind this evening while I was updating a link in my bio on this blog page. One of the main repositories still out there documenting Michael's life is Matt Guthrie's Nomad Land which I linked to. I was perusing Michael's bio when I went to the newspaper accounts of his car accident. This was such bizarre strange unbelievable news that I actually got nearly a month after the fact in late 1997. I was stunned as so many were who felt this guitar pioneer's influence during the 80's and 90's, it was so unreal that this really creative guy almost a mystic that we all followed was no more.

Though not the first, Michael did bring such a strong fresh spin on instrumental acoustic guitar technique when he burst on to the scene as a Will Ackerman discovery for his [Ackerman's] then upstart cottage industry record label in the late 70's that it was unlike anything many interested in the guitar in a compositional way had ever heard. Not to take anything away from Leo Kottke or John Fahey but Michael brought a mix of eloquent detail and precise percussive and rhythmic technique and sense of focus that it was much akin to falling under the spell of Shira Kahn in the Jungle Book.

The paradox in this 'fame' that he gained was almost accident to what accounts say he really wanted, that to be recognized as a singer-songwriter or somewhat of a rock star.

This entry is just several lose thoughts for now. If the name is new to you get a hold of Michael's first recording Breakfast in the Field and his last he was recording just before his death, called Torched. In a sense I've moved on to a different chapter in my music though I still think about him and really owe a lot to him. A couple months after his death I wrote a piece simply called For Michael. I recorded two different versions on my first and second CD's, Celtic Journey to The Path and Through the Door. On one of my first trips to California in 2001 friend and television producer Jeff Watts shot this performance video for me,

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