It’s been a couple of years since we dipped into the Michael Hedges video archive for a Throwback pick. Hedges has been on my mind recently, as we approach the 20th anniversary this fall of his untimely death in an auto accident. He was a gentle soul, a really bright and articulate guy (I got to interview him once), and obviously a talented innovator. I suppose he was/is an acquired taste for some people, but I always felt he had a really appealing, distinctive, and commanding touch, both as a musician playing his own compositions, and as an interpreter of others people’s songs.
In this clip from 1986, Hedges plays a piece he wrote for the soundtrack of a documentary film about a famous modern Japanese adventurer/explorer called The Story of Naomi Uemura—among other accomplishments, Uemura was the first man to reach the North Pole solo and the first to raft the Amazon solo; he died in 1984 on the slopes of the Alaskan peak now called Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley), his body never recovered. Hedges plays a early 1920s Dyer harp guitar, which allows him to tap into some wonderfully resonant bass tones. His studio recording of “Because It’s There” first appeared on the film soundtrack album, called The Shape of the Land, which also featured tracks by fellow Windham Hill artists William Ackerman, Philip Aaberg ( who composed the main score), and others. The piece has appeared subsequently on numerous Hedges and Windham Hill compilations. —Blair Jackson