After Michael’s untimely death in late 1997, his manager, Hilleary Burgess, worked with others to release his final studio project, Torched (1999).
The album’s title and track list came from Michael. Originally called Phoenix Fire, Hedges explained the meaning behind Torched: “So I got into this new thing. I’m calling it volcano guitar, or magma guitar….The metaphor would be that my soul is on fire, and here comes some music, erupting out. I like believing that everything is connected up.”
Some of the tracks on Torched were final studio versions, others were high-quality but unfinished demos. This mostly-vocal album contained some of Hedges’ best songwriting work, including “Free Swinging Soul,” a lighthearted but touching song written on Father’s Day in 1994 for his father and children.
His friends David Crosby and Graham Nash recorded beautiful harmony vocals on Michael’s song “Spring Buds.” Guitar enthusiasts have much to celebrate about Torched, with such strong guitar instrumentals as “Arrowhead,” “Java Man,” “Fusion of the Five Elements,” “Dream Beach,” and “Ursa Major.”
One of Michael’s guitar heroes Pete Townshend said “[Torched] is an essential look at the real Michael Hedges.” Torched certainly combines Michael’s mastery of composition, guitar, keyboards, flutes, songwriting, and studio production into a powerful testament to his incomparable talents.
Photo credit: Karen Haskell