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Fahey, was Re: Nature of Reality

On Tuesday, May 3, 2005, at 07:14 PM, ArsOcarina@aol.com wrote:

In a message dated 05/03/05 17:04:52, sambacomet@hotmail.com writes:

Rants by John Fahey<http://www.johnfahey.com/reality.htm> He apparently
released some experimantal electronica in th e90s,at least he said he
did,but I'm haveing trouble finding it.

I never owned any of those but I heard a few (my local library had a few of
his "electronic" music CDs to check out). Fahey is/was and odd duck and
a bit od\f a crank -- even in the days when he was just doing acoustic

I related these experiments of his more to a sort of overly-processed Dr.
Eugene Chadbourne aethetic done somewhat amateurishly. The sad thing is
is that towards the end of his life he was living out of is station wagon
physically sick and mentaly disconnected. I'm not sure, he may have even
died under thos ciecumstances.

I grew up listening to Fahey, my older brother plays guitar and was constantly shedding on his tunes. My wife and I are both huge fans.

>From my understanding, Fahey was down and out, bouncing between homeless shelters, cheap hotels and living in his car, battling alcoholism and Epstein-Barr syndrome in the late-80's, early 90's, living in Salem, OR. I met him a few times, he would come into the record store I worked at occasionally, and it was obvious he had some serious troubles. I actually made him cry one day when I wouldn't put a stack of 50-odd collectable records on hold for him (he had a history of putting stuff on hold and then never returning to pick it up). I definitely felt bad about that encounter.

In the early 90's, a pretty dedicated group of fans and younger musicians he inspired made a huge effort to help him out, including people like Glenn Jones of Cul de Sac and Jim O'Rourke. They got him playing and recording again, so he'd have an income, and I believe helped him sort out some of the royalty issues on his early discs. The stuff he put out in the 90's is spotty, but often brilliant, IMHO, and definitely he was exploring new ground. This from someone who could have continued putting out a new Christmas album every year and made a LOT more money. His last record, released after his death, is Red Cross, and I recommend it to anyone, he returns to his earlier style, and covers tunes like "Summertime" and other standards, along with some pretty tasteful noise explorations. It's a beautiful and heart-breakingly sad record, really feels like a summing up of his life.

I heard a performance he did on KBOO radio in the late 90's with a trio, a hammond player and a drummer, where Fahey was playing electric, and it was really nice, kind of like a space-rock approach to his tunes. The other players felt very tuned in to Fahey's esthetic, and also worked to keep him focussed. I believe there's a disc out by that group, but I haven't tracked it down.

Another product of his late period is his memoir "How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life." This book is one of my all-time favorite reads, a collection of short stories about his childhood and his musical career. It's often hilarious (his account of working with the Italian director Antonioni on a soundtrack is extremely sarcastic and funny), often pretty sad, and has some very interesting philosophical ideas, the man had a pretty unique worldview. I really recommend the book, and not just to Fahey fans. If you read his liner notes, you know what a great writer he was, and this is like that, only more.