Sunday, October 31, 2004


Of all the offbeat, off key bands and performers that'll be included in this alphabet, there will be few who will have lived a life as full or created such marvellous music as John Fahey.

Fahey died shortly after recording "Red Cross". I guess this is a good a place to start with his career. You can work backwards from here. Just a hint: you will need a damn fine record shop to track down some of his earliest work.

The disc, like most of his releases, consists of just Fahey on guitar (except the last track). His finger picking style provides such depth and texture that nothing else is required. Add to that a raw recording of the album makes and it feel like it's a live performance in your head.

Life was never easy. Fahey recorded over 5 decades, often in obscurity. It was only later in his life that his work was "discovered" by many young artists seeking inspiration for a new American vernacular - Americana if you will. Then there's the years when he was destitute and homeless. Always devoted to music Fahey ploughed on and what you can find on those remaining recordings is a unique, though eclectic body of work.

You'll find, amongst other gems, Gershwin's "Summertime" here. Incidentally, my all-time favourite song. It's not the best version I've ever heard, but Fahey adds voices to the song I'd not heard before.

There are countless other great guitarists. Fahey's guitar voice, however, sits apart. Listening to some of this disc it is though he absorbed the style and phrasing of just about every other musical he ever heard. Now he influences a whole raft of pluckers himself.

:: Posted by pete @ 18:12