Posts Tagged ‘John Fahey’

Masterpiece: The Best Of John Fahey 1959-1977

10 March 2011

[Today: The buzzard blues...]

John Fahey picked the buzzard’s blues,

a natural, stark guitar music that clangs of

bare bones, like a carcass picked clean

a rock on a beach, desolate waves crashing

again and again, over and over and

Fahey’s notes come like the grim reaper,

inevitable undeniable pure beautiful cold…

Listen: Sunflower River Blues

Listen: When The Spring Time Comes Again

Masterpiece: 1928 Sessions

12 December 2010

[Today: The bottom of the Blues...]

It’s easy enough to look at the Blues and see a music rooted in pain and suffering. If you focus exclusively on the story lines of the songs or the whiskey in the voices, that’s probably a fair enough takeaway. But when you get beneath those surfaces it’s easy to see that at its bottom, this is life affirming music. It feels funny to be a white kid from Oregon writing about the Blues, but I grew up around blue collar folks – much of my family and many of our neighbors plied their trade in the local lumber mills – so I knew people who left a little piece of themselves at their jobs every day. You’d see dads trudging home at 5pm, looking battered by another day on the green chain, and if that didn’t double your resolve to work harder on your homework you were just plain crazy or dumb enough to deserve what was coming.

Work that hard demands good times, and my relatives and neighbors were good people to unwind with. Gregarious, quick-witted and able with a story, they could drink and laugh and tell tall tales with the best of them. My impression was that if work was determined to squeeze the life out these people, they were equally determined to squeeze the life out of their free time. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – has there ever been more insidious false advertising than that? A more truthful version would be that what doesn’t kill you makes you REALLY appreciate not having something try to kill you (not as catchy or uplifting, I know).

When Mississippi John Hurt sings about laying his burden down, his voice has a carefree lilt that sounds more like someone punching the time clock on Friday evening than someone cashing in their chips. Hurt’s voice could swing from pure joy to the deep sadness of a man who saw his promising music career crippled by the Great Depression and put on hold for more than 30 years. Whether or not he had been rediscovered in the early 60s, his musical legacy was long ago sealed by the dozen pre-Depression Okeh recordings compiled on 1928 Sessions.

What these songs reveal is a guitarist of the highest order, a gifted storyteller, and wise soul. Hurt delivered his music with a ray of sunshine, and even murder ballads like ‘Frankie’ and ‘Stack O’ Lee Blues’ come off as good stories rather than bone-chilling narratives. In John Fahey’s liner notes to the CD re-release of Harry Smith’s Anthology Of American Folk Music, he opines that “‘Frankie’ is… probably the best guitar recording ever. Rumor has it that when this piece was played for Segovia, he couldn’t believe there were not two guitars at work.”

Hurt’s own take was that “The Blues ain’t nothin’ but a good woman on your mind.” Clearly, for this great bluesman, life was hard, but the music came down to something good…

Listen: Stack O’Lee Blues

Listen: Frankie

Listen: Avalon Blues

Weekend Playlist

15 November 2010

“I wanted to be the first woman to burn her bra, but it would have taken the fire department four days to put it out.” ~ Dolly Parton


Ray Charles | The Genius Of Ray Charles


Bo Diddley | Where It All Began


Various Artists | The Bristol Sessions


Cowboy Junkies | The Trinity Sessions


David Bromberg | Wanted Dead Or Alive


Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson | From South Africa To South Carolina


Bad Company | Bad Co.


John Fahey | The Yellow Princess


Dolly Parton | Coat Of Many Colors


Robert Plant | Now And Zen


Elvis Presley | His Hand In Mine


Joe Henderson | Page One


Horace Silver | The Stylings Of Silver


Gerry Mulligan and Ben Webster | Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster


Roland Kirk | We Free Kings


Ike Quebec | It Might As Well Be Spring


Lee Morgan | The Rumproller


Jimmy Smith with Stanley Turrentine | Prayer Meetin’


Brother Jack McDuff | Down Home Style


Ben Webster | Saturday Night At The Montmartre

Doubleshot Tuesday: The Brandenburg Concertos/Baroque Music For Trumpets

22 December 2009

[Today: Hide the holiday music...]


I know it’s not a popular sentiment to broadcast, but holiday music generally blows egg nog. Although the argument could be made that most Christmas carols just aren’t very good songs, the problem here is one of quantity not quality. The world is still singing the exact same batch of songs it was singing when I was a kid, and anytime you’re subjected to the same music in perpetuity, bad things will happen. What was inspiring and uplifting as a seven year-old becomes tired and dull several decades and a few hundred thousand listens later. Whenever I hear about homicides during the holiday season, I always suspect ‘Deck The Halls’ as a mitigating factor. Strangely, there don’t seem to be many new additions to the holiday music canon, and most of the recent memorable holiday songs are of the ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ or ‘Santa Got Run Over By A Reindeer’ novelty/kitsch varietal. In other words, we’re talking about a pretty stagnant pool of music.

So what are discerning listeners to do this time of year, besides gouge out their ears with a pencil? There are certainly a handful of very good holiday albums by excellent interpretive musicians – John Fahey’s The New Possibility comes to mind here. It’s an album of guitar instrumentals, and unless you were paying very close attention, it’s unlikely you’d realize you were listening to a holiday album. Which in my book is almost perfect.

But an even better idea is to skip the interpretations and move away from holiday music altogether. There’s a certain strain of classical music that sets the right kind of mood for the holidays, and two of my personal favorite examples of it are Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and Wynton Marsalis’ Baroque Music For Trumpets. The obvious huge disclaimer here is that if you’re not down with classical, this isn’t much of a solution. But I think we can all agree that almost anything beats yet another three minutes spent with the likes of ‘White Christmas’. Call it humbug if you must, but there’s no reason to let bad music dampen your holiday spirit.

Listen: Brandenburg Concerto #1 – in F [Bach]

Listen: Concerto for 2 Trumpets and Strings in C-Major, RV 537: I. Allegro [Marsalis]

Listen Concerto for 2 Trumpets and Strings in C Major, RV 537: II. Largo [Marsalis]

Listen: Concerto for 2 Trumpets and Strings in C-Major, RV 537: III. Allegro [Marsalis]

Weekend Playlist

2 November 2009

“I got rabies shots for biting the head off a bat but that’s OK – the bat had to get Ozzy shots.” ~ Ozzy Osbourne

Bon Iver | For Emma, Forever Ago
Bon Iver | For Emma, Forever Ago

Bob Dylan | Bringing It All Back Home
Bob Dylan | Bringing It All Back Home

Them | Featuring Name Withheld Lead Singer
Them | Featuring Name Withheld Lead Singer

Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach | Brandenburg Concertos
[Album cover not pictured]

The Stooges | Fun House
The Stooges | Fun House

Judas Priest | British Steel
Judas Priest | British Steel

Metallica | Kill 'Em All
Metallica | Kill ‘Em All

Michael Jackson | Thriller
Michael Jackson | Thriller

Joy Division | Peel Sessions
Joy Division | Peel Sessions

White Zombie | Astro Creep: 2000
White Zombie | Astro-Creep: 2000

Ozzy Osbourne | Bark At The Moon
Ozzy Osbourne | Bark At The Moon

Jane's Addiction | Nothing's Shocking
Jane’s Addiction | Nothing’s Shocking

Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes

Fairport Convention | Unhalfbricking
Fairport Convention | Unhalfbricking

John Fahey | The Best Of John Fahey 1959-1977
John Fahey | The Best Of John Fahey 1959-1977

Peddlers | Suite London
The Peddlers | Suite London

Stephen Stills | Stephen Stills
Stephen Stills | Stephen Stills

Dire Straits | Dire Straits
Dire Straits | Dire Straits

The Band | Cahoots
The Band | Cahoots

Captain Beefheart | The Spotlight Kid
Captain Beefheart | The Spotlight Kid

A Day At The Flea VII

14 June 2009

The P and I hit our local flea market last weekend, and came away with our usual bevy of musical treasures. Luckily, my Fillmore poster guy, Larry, was in a wheeling and dealing kind of mood, so we walked with a couple of pretty nice vintage posters (and one that’s beat to hell, but something I hadn’t seen before). Here are a few of the goodies we picked up…

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh | Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh | Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

James Brown | Hot Pants
James Brown | Hot Pants

Miles Davis And His Orchestra | The Complete Birth Of The Cool
Miles Davis And His Orchestra | The Complete Birth Of The Cool

Clifford Brown | Jazz Immortal
Clifford Brown | Jazz Immortal

Johnny Cash | This Is Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash | This Is Johnny Cash

English Chamber Orchestra | The Brandenburg Concertos
English Chamber Orchestra | The Brandenburg Concertos

Various Artists | Okeh Western Swing
Various Artists | Okeh Western Swing

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong | Ella And Louis
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong | Ella And Louis

Woody Allen | Woody Allen
Woody Allen | Woody Allen

Woody Allen | Woody Allen Volume 2
Woody Allen | Woody Allen Volume 2

Various Artists | A Night At Studio 54
Various Artists | A Night At Studio 54

Louis Armstrong & His All Stars/Duke Ellington & His Orchestra | At Newport
Louis Armstrong & His All Stars/Duke Ellington & His Orchestra | At Newport

Quicksilver Messenger Service | Family Dog Poster by Victor Moscoso (1966)
Quicksilver Messenger Service | Family Dog Poster by Victor Moscoso (1966)

Country Joe & The Fish/John Fahey | Finnish Brotherhood Hall (year unknown)
Country Joe & The Fish/John Fahey | Finnish Brotherhood Hall (year unknown)

The Cabale | Music calendar for June of unknown year
The Cabale | Music calendar for June of unknown year
The Cabale | Music calendar for October of unknown year
The Cabale | Music calendar for October of unknown year

Weekend Playlist

18 May 2009

It was so hot this weekend in the Bay Area that The P and I just sat in front of the turntable and a fan, and melted into puddles. Here’s some of what we melted to…

Front 242 | Front By Front
Front 242 | Front By Front

Grootna | Grootna
Grootna | Grootna

Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen | Lost In The Ozone
Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen | Lost In The Ozone

Various Artists | Darker Than Blue: Soul From Jamdown 1973-1980
Various Artists | Darker Than Blue: Soul From Jamdown 1973-1980

Various Artists | Searching For The Wrong-Eyed Jesus Soundtrack
Various Artists | Searching For The Wrong-Eyed Jesus Soundtrack

Roots Manuva | Run Come Save Me
Roots Manuva | Run Come Save Me

Eddie Vedder | Into The Wild Soundtrack
Eddie Vedder | Into The Wild

Massive Attack | Protection
Massive Attack | Protection

Spank Rock | Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo
Spank Rock | Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo

Atmosphere | Seven's Travels
Atmosphere | Seven’s Travels

My Morning Jacket | Z
My Morning Jacket | Z

Fred Neil | Bleecker & MacDougal
Fred Neil | Bleecker & MacDougal

M. Ward | Hold Time
M. Ward | Hold Time

Santana | Abraxas
Santana | Abraxas

Otis Rush | Right Place, Wrong Time
Otis Rush | Right Place, Wrong Time

The Clash | Sandinista!
The Clash | Sandinista!

Fleetwood Mac | Then Play On
Fleetwood Mac | Then Play On

Nina Simone | The Best Of Nina Simone
Nina Simone | The Best Of Nina Simone

The Beach Boys | The Beach Boys Today!
The Beach Boys | The Beach Boys Today!

Various Artists | Ghana Soundz
Various Artists | Ghana Soundz

Pink Floyd | Animals
Pink Floyd | Animals

Otis Redding | In Person At The Whisky A Go Go
Otis Redding | In Person At The Whisky A Go Go

Gary Higgins | Red Hash
Gary Higgins | Red Hash

Paul Simon | Rhythm Of The Saints
Paul Simon | The Rhythm Of The Saints

Jimmy Forrest | Out Of The Forrest
Jimmy Forrest | Out Of The Forrest

John Fahey | The Best Of John Fahey 1959-1977
John Fahey | The Best Of John Fahey 1959-1977

The P Speaks: Songs That Reflect Late November

23 November 2008

Autumn foliage

Somehow we’ve snuck 40 odd weeks into the year and Thanksgiving is upon us, again. dk and I were recently talking about “Thanksgiving Songs” – songs that are uniquely American, like this upcoming holiday. It’s hard to disassociate this holiday from childhood memories of this time of year, like getting up before dawn for the 8 hour drive (Ford Torino wagon, fake wood paneling) to our cousins’ house in Syracuse (where the giant wood console TV was always tuned to football) and post-feast dishwashing that required drill team precision.

Now that I’m approaching my 20th year in Northern California, Thanksgiving is a hike along the ridgeline, friendship and laughter, good pinot noir, tupperware fighting for space in the fridge, and a lovely four day break from the office. We have been blessed with friends who are excellent chefs and excellent hosts, so we rarely cook. (There was the infamous creamed onion and midnight turkey incident of 1992 at 21 Belcher Street, but we won’t go there now…) 

While I love Arlo and Alice’s Restaurant, there is other music that speaks to this time of year. Here are some candidates that might make you put a log on the fire and stare into the flames…

The Band | Twilight

Uncle Tupelo | Screen Door

Josh Ritter | Me & Jiggs

Fleet Foxes | Blue Ridge Mountains

Lucinda Williams | Big Red Sun Blues

Whiskeytown | Jacksonville Skyline

John Phillips | Malibu People

John Fahey | I Am The Resurrection

Allman Brothers | Blue Sky

M. Ward | Duet For Guitars #2

Yo La Tengo | Night Falls On Hoboken

Hank Williams | Settin’ The Woods On Fire

Dave Alvin | Dark Eyes

Fred Neil | I’ve Got A Secret (Didn’t We Shake Sugaree)

Neko Case | Fox Confessor Brings The Flood

Stevie Ray Vaughan | Little Wing

My Morning Jacket | Steam Engine

Johnny Cash | Breaking Bread

The Long Ryders | Ivory Tower

Joe Ely | Gallo Del Cielo

Flying Burrito Brothers | Wheels

Willie Nelson | Moonlight In Vermont

Guitar Gods – The Cover Art

19 November 2008

Here’s the cover art for one of my latest mixes – a four disc box-set called Guitar Gods. A compilation like this invites furrowed brows, lists of corrections, and plenty of harrumphing from all corners. Strike up the chorus: “But what about ____________?” There were dozens more guitarists that ideally would have been included, but four discs seemed like enough, and the line had to be drawn somewhere.

World B. Furr (sometime commenter on this blog) was kind enough to collaborate on this mix with me, and help me figure out where to draw that line, and it was a clear case of two brains being better than one. We had a lot of back and forth about who to include and who to leave out, and inevitably there were compromises to be made.

From the liner notes to this mix, here’s a six-pack of guitarists who just missed the cut:

Ace Frehley – When I was a kid I thought every guitarist should sound like The Spaceman. But then somewhere along the way I grew up. Still, I have a strange desire to shout “ACE FREHLEY! SHOCK ME!!!” and put him in the mix. Didn’t happen… [dk]

Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman – Scott Ian of Anthrax once said that if he goes to Hell, there’s no doubt Slayer will playing on the loudspeaker. These two guys have spent the better part of the last 25 years kicking out some of the heaviest and most sinister riffs of all-time — never once losing the fire that first got things started. [Furr]

George Brigman – Brigman is a Guitar God for me because he represents the dreams of the everyman player. As a 17 year-old kid, Brigman self-released his debut album Jungle Rot in 1975 and then watched it disappear. Time has proven it a fuzzed out, lo-fi classic. [dk]

Mick Taylor – Although we ultimately chose ‘Satisfaction’ and the Brian Jones-era Rolling Stones, I feel it’s imperative to point out the genius of Mick Taylor. Few could argue that the Taylor years were the Stones finest, and that’s largely due to the “other” Mick. [Furr]

Peter Green – The driving force of the original, bluesy Fleetwood Mac, Green was one of the best guitarists of his generation. Unfortunately, he lost his sanity in a worm hole of drugs, and disappeared from the music scene for decades. But his is a brilliant, if truncated, body of work. [dk]

Alex Lifeson – There are a lot of excuses people will give for hating Rush. Alex Lifeson’s guitar work is never one of them. This guy is one of the greatest players ever and he’s one-third of the reason why I absolutely LOVE Rush. [Furr]

Without further ado…

[Here's the front cover...]
Guitar Gods | Front

[Here's the inside front cover...]
Guitar Gods | Front Inside

[Here's the inside booklet cover...]
Guitar Gods | Booklet Cover
[Guitar pick photos courtesy of Umlaut!]

[Here's the guts of the inside booklet...]
Guitar Gods | Inside Booklet

[Here's the back inside...]
Guitar Gods | Back Inside

[Here's the back...]
Guitar Gods | Back

[Here's the track listing...]

Disc 1ne
Chuck Berry * Johnny B. Goode
The Rolling Stones * Satisfaction [Keith Richards]
The White Stripes * Seven Nation Army [Jack White]
Link Wray * Rumble
Dick Dale & The Del-Tones * Let’s Go Trippin’
Cream * Sunshine Of Your Love [Eric Clapton]
Quicksilver Messenger Service * Mona [John Cipollina and Gary Duncan]
Merl Saunders, Jerry Garcia etc * Keepers (Live)
The Allman Brothers Band * In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed (Live) [Duane Allman]
The Faces * Around The Plynth [Ron Wood]
Santana * Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen [Carlos Santana]
The Who * Won’t Get Fooled Again [Pete Townshend]
ZZ Top * La Grange [Billy Gibbons]
U2 * Bullet The Blue Sky [The Edge]

Disc 2wo
John Fahey * St. Louis Blues
Robert Johnson * Sweet Home Chicago
Mississippi John Hurt * Frankie
Muddy Waters * Baby Please Don’t Go
Bo Diddley * Who Do You Love?
Howlin’ Wolf * Smokestack Lightnin’
Albert King * Born Under A Bad Sign
Otis Rush * I Can’t Quit You Baby
Freddie King * Key To The Highway
Buddy Guy * A Man and The Blues
Johnny Winter * Dallas
B.B. King * Everyday I Have The Blues
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble * The Sky Is Crying
Albert Collins * Frosty
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band * East-West [Mike Bloomfield]
Roy Buchanan * Sweet Dreams

Disc 3hree
Nirvana * Come As You Are [Kurt Cobain]
Deep Purple * Smoke On The Water [Ritchie Blackmore]
Aerosmith * Sweet Emotion [Joe Perry]
Black Sabbath * Fairies Wear Boots [Tony Iommi]
Ted Nugent * Stranglehold
Spinal Tap * Sex Farm [Nigel Tufnel]
Sex Pistols * God Save The Queen [Steve Jones]
The Ramones * Judy Is A Punk [Johnny Ramone]
The Clash * Clampdown [Joe Strummer and Mick Jones]
Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers * One Track Mind
AC/DC * Highway To Hell [Angus Young]
Van Halen * Eruption [Eddie Van Halen]
Ozzy Osbourne * Flying High Again [Randy Rhoads]
Guns N’ Roses * Mr. Brownstone [Slash]
Judas Priest * You’ve Got Another Thing Coming [Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing]
Iron Maiden * The Trooper [Dave Murray and Adrian Smith]
Metallica * The Four Horsemen [Kirk Hammett]
Rage Against The Machine * Bombtrack [Tom Morello]

Disc 4our
Andrés Segovia * Suite Compostelana: I. Preludio
Buena Vista Social Club * Chan Chan [Ry Cooder]
Jeff Beck * Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers
Led Zeppelin * White Summer/Black Mountain Side [Jimmy Page]
The Jimi Hendrix Experience * Little Wing
John McLaughlin * Peace Piece
Funkadelic * Maggot Brain [Eddie Hazel]
Neil Young * Cortez The Killer
Pink Floyd * Comfortably Numb [David Gilmore]
Buckethead * Lone Sal Bug
Dire Straits * Ride Across The River [Mark Knopfler]
The Beatles * While My Guitar Gently Weeps [George Harrison]
Les Paul * Lover

*****

[I'll be extremely disappointed if there are less than two dozen fired up comments about how we screwed this up. This mix couldn't possibly cover off on everyone's personal list of Guitar Gods, so I look forward to hearing who you think we missed, and what we got wrong. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to slip into my flame retardant Kevlar suit...]

Weekend Playlist

22 September 2008

The P and I were treated to some delightful mariachi music that came drifting across the way on Saturday evening. It was a perfect complement to a beautiful night at home. Here is some other music that scored our weekend activities…


Them | Them Featuring Van Morrison Lead Singer


Gandalf | Gandalf


The Staple Singers | Be Altitude: Respect Yourself


INXS | Shabooh Shoobah


The Long Ryders | Native Sons


The Sir Douglas Quintet | The Best Of


Willie Nelson | Stardust


Hot Tuna | Burgers


John Mayall | Blues From Laurel Canyon


Professor Longhair | Crawfish Fiesta


Lee Oskar | Lee Oskar


John Fahey | Requia


Kruder & Dorfmeister | G-Stoned


Wolf Parade | Apologies To The Queen Mary


The Kinks | Muswell Hillbillies


Little Feat | Waiting For Columbus


Eric Clapton | 461 Ocean Boulevard


Ray Charles | A 25th Anniversary In Show Business Salute To Ray Charles: His All-Time Greatest Performances


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