23 November 05 from petrarch 1
Somehow, Im not surprised that Chris Whitley killed himself with cigarettes. The idea of something that one does ostensibly for pleasure, that also tears you down and eventually kills you, seems to fit Chris sometimes dissonant and fragmented music, which, interestingly (understandably), also seems like it can only have been made in a smoke-filled room.
The degree to which I like and dont like his work seems related to how hard my mind works to assemble the clipped, arpeggiated chords or straying dissonances into some sort of semi-coherent musical structure. For me there is something very satisfying about this exercise (which I have experienced in similar fashion with, among others, Richard Thompson, Neil Young, J Mascis)until it gets to be too difficult. I do find that some of his work is difficult. Or, sometimes, I just dont like the musical structure that emerges. But just as Chris always seemed to be challenging himself, his music always engages me. Its shimmery unevenness sometimes becomes sublime, other times spins away from me in a clashing whirl. I like it most when it is most straightforward, driving blues and pop through the haze of his sonic filter to elegiac splendor: Firefighter, Indian Summer, Poison Girl, Wild Country, etc.
The rawness of the production on most of his albums makes you feel like you are in the same room with him, hearing the buzzing frets and the tapping foot. Since Chris is now gone, it is nice that we can still have that experience.
22 November 05 from Ian Mathers 4
I've just suffered the kind of nasty, not-actually-significant coincidence we all do from time to time; I'd just put together a podcast that includes Whitley's "Assassin Song" and me talking about how much I love the album it comes from, and now I hear he's dead.
I've only heard that one album, and I was never sure if I'd like his others, but I can only echo what glenn and Michael have said.
22 November 05 from Michael 3
Well, this is a terrible shock. I will be the first to say, that when I saw glenn mcdonald's "Chris Whitley 1960-2005" on the front of www.furia.com, I gasped but immediately assumed I knew the cause. I've seen Whitley in shows brilliant and appalling, and at times he's been frankly incoherent and obviously stoned. Knowing his substance abuse issues, I figured he had overdosed. (Of course, giving his chainsmoking, I may actually be describing the same process, in slow motion.)
I think Whitley was a genius. Entirely unreliable and frustratingly aimless at times in his artistic goals, but an utterly unique talent and one of the most distinctive musical figures of his time. Like glenn says, I didn't even like all his records, nor all his performances, but it's a dreadful disappointment to hear that there won't be more of them.
22 November 05 from glenn mcdonald 2
We create the horizon by standing still, but sometimes it rushes towards us and there's nothing we can do.
I never met him, I never saw him play, I didn't even like all his records, nor were his records the reason for his life. And it's profoundly wrong that there won't be more of them.
22 November 05 from petrarch 1
Sadly, Chris Whitley died on 20 November of lung cancer. This is from chriswhitley.com:
Chris Whitley 1960-2005
Words from Trixie Whitley:
My father took his last breath last night the 20th of November. I would like to make it clear that the people he needed and loved the most were with him while and when he left in peace. Those were Dan, Susanne, me and Chorinne. I would also like to ask you guys to understand there is a very fine line between Chris Whitley the legendary musician and Chris Whitley the Father, Brother, and Lover.
This was my Dad's favorite line from the first song I ever wrote, this is for you Daddy:
"Like the feather we blow away, in the thoughtlessness of words others say."
All faith and peace,
Words from Dan Whitley:
I just wanted to add Chris passed over surrounded by lots of love. The time we spent with Chris in these last days were something I'll never forget and these woman whom I shared Chris's last moments with were just amazing.
Susann Buerger who was by his side nonstop (Chris planned to marry Susann) held him in his arms the moment he passed in absolute and total peace, the reason I mentioned this is I always felt being held by someone you love while you passed over was a truly special thing. Trixie my niece is one of the strongest young woman I have ever met and Chris was always so proud of her whenever we spoke, Im also incredibly proud to be her uncle and love her beyond words.
Chorinne gave her home to Chris and the rest of us in this time of need and didnt stop taking care of things that needed to be taken care of the entire time, she gave us all a sanctuary to take care of Chris in and went way out of her way to help from the beginning and is still helping.
Me, I pretty much just cried my ass off when I wasn't helping Susanne with Chris....still crying.
I hope you all will mourn my brothers death but more important celebrate his life as Chris was all about life and living... I started the celebration by cranking up Dirt floor in his honor...crying still.
Chris Whitley's Legacy will no doubt transcend all time.
Love and Light,