Dust Radio – A Film About Chris Whitley

As a fan of the music of the late Chris Whitley, I was excited to learn that the documentary about his life and music, Dust Radio, had gone into post-production (view trailer above).

A Texas-based singer-songwriter, Whitley‘s music was a unique blending of blues, roots music, rock and intensely erotic lyricism. Desire and despair, eroticism and exoticism mingle together with love and death, poverty, spirituality, and romance in many of Whitley‘s songs: “Narcotic Prayer” (Weed, 2004); “Her Furious Angels” (War Crime Blues, 2004); “Made From Dirt” (War Crime Blues, 2004); and “Dirt Floor” Live in Australia, Spring 2005, with special guest Jeff Lang.

In mid-October 2005, after 30 years of traveling and playing, Chris Whitley, battling complications from lung cancer, cancelled the remainder of tour dates in support of then his latest record, Soft Dangerous Shores. He was estranged from his lover of many years and unclear of what his future held. I sat with him in New York throughout this time. The result is straight forward and intensely real. A sobering portrait of a great and widely forgotten about artist near his end; critically heralded and touted in the 90’s, now destitute and estranged.”



– Jonathan Mayor / Director January, 2010

The first three clips below are live videos of Chris Whitley in various venues – “Cool Wooden Crosses” (Terra Incognita, 1997); “Pint of Lotion” (Poison Girl, 1992); “Narcotic Prayer”, “Kick the Stones”, and “Scrapyard Lullaby” at the Rosebud, Pittsburgh, PA, May 7th, 1977 – the fourth, “O God My Heart Is Ready”, is an official video for ‘Din of Ecstasy’, 1995.

Note: Like his friend and sometime touring partner, Warren Zevon, Chris Whitley also died of Mesothelioma.

3 Responses to “Dust Radio – A Film About Chris Whitley”

  1. Harry Barris says:

    I was introduced to the music of Chris Whitley by his cd Rocket House, one of his last albums, which was (imo) a progression from his earlier ‘primitive’ raw bluesy stuff. It’s an interesting album that is half-great: the more ‘experimental’ tracks are really wonderful, while the more ‘conventional’ songs are too ‘mainstream’ sounding as if Chris was trying to become more “successful” after he had just been signed to Dave Matthews’ (Yuck!) vanity label–and was set to open up for them on a big tour. Unfortunately, he was thrown off the tour (before it even began) by his erratic behavior caused by his alcoholism which ultimately led to his death. (A woman acquaintance i once knew was an early integral member of his fan club and told me these sad details.)

  2. Schlarb says:

    Chris Whitley was a genius. He was up there with Zappa, Joni, Miles, Tony Williams, Dylan… all of them. Dirt Floor, Din of Ecstasy, and Hotel Vast Horizon are some of my favorite and most listened to albums ever made.

  3. Schlarb says:

    Oh! And I forgot to say… thank you for posting about this film. I didn’t know it existed.

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