I didn’t know him personally, unless our paths crossed when I was in Portland in the mid-eighties, which I don’t think they did. We played on a bill together in either ‘97 or ‘99 I think but we didn’t hang out. So I’m not really qualified to give any estimation of him as a person. As a musician he’s a spectacular guitarist and one of the best songwriters of his generation, and also he’s sort of the player from our indie minor leagues who got called up to the big show and instead of fizzling like so many before him, shone. His major label albums not only weren’t disappointments, they were triumphs, and they were kind of…validating, maybe? to people who were writing songs that might have seemed too dark or introspective or bookish for the mainstream. His success suggested that the world had changed a little - not seismically, just a little, but in an interesting way. His death was very hard for me.
I have a special fondness for Heatmiser’s Mic City Sons, especially the opening track.