If Chet Baker represented all that could go wrong with the beautiful mind of a tortured artist, and the vices which can bring him down, it took Chris Whitley to give torment, cigarettes, and heroin a good name — I guess. Today it has been 5 years since Chris Whitley died of lung cancer. Beautiful. Gaunt. Tortured. Raw. Pure. Poetic. Rough. Artist. Smoke. Trance. Bony. Genius. Compelling. Torment. Expressive. Sweet. Hypnotic. Historic. Impish. Gracious. These are only some of the words that I see when I think of, and when I listen to Whitley. He was infinitely beautiful, always testing his reach, and profoundly allowing in his process and presentation. His lyrics reflect the world within him, every bit as much as the world about him. He could tune a guitar oddly, and play it smoothly and sweetly. Or, he could tune one roughly, and still play it sweetly. Obscure tunings, and radical adjustments in process were his platform. Purity was draw. Not only could he bend a guitar string round enough to throw a chair through a note, but he could bend his voice in equal portion, and that was his secret weapon. Chris Whitley’s voice was an instrument unto itself — like no other I have heard. This has absolutely nothing to do with exercise, fitness, or mindful eating – but that between the years 2001-2003, I listened to no other artist – none. Cardio, weightroom, running, driving, working, playing, paddling — anything, his interpretations of historic blues, and incarnations of modern blues were the soundtrack of my life. If you had lived a healthier life Mr. Whitley, and not been a smoker, you might still be around today, and I think your gift would have come through just as clear, and reached more people. If you are reading this, and you don’t know Christ Whitley, seek him out on i-tunes or on www.youtube.com — you will not be disappointed. A fan named rc.