Friday, March 26, 2004

Some kind of genius - JOHN FAHEY

Back in the 60s Judith played me an extraordinary record on her (then unusual) big stereo system. Spacious, hypnotic, mystical guitar. Nothing like anything that even the folk crowd I hung out with were playing. It was called "The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death". John Fahey was his own man, completely uncompromising. He wasn't a trippy hippie, but a drunk, hated the hippie scene who adopted him. Nothing new there - look at Kurt Vonnegut with his alcohol and 6o ciggies a day. Fahey had a difficult time later (which I can empathise with - without self-pity) but was doing what he wanted to do.

'He divorced his third wife, Melody, and lost his house; he contracted chronic fatigue syndrome; he entered a new phase of alcoholism by drinking beer compulsively for the energy it gave him; he discovered that he had diabetes. For a time, he was homeless and lived in a men's shelter in Salem, Ore. Sober now, he lives in a motel in Salem, where he recorded "City of Refuge," on equipment in his room.

During the down years, he supported himself by scouring second-hand stores and flea markets for used classical records, which he sells to collectors. Mr. Fahey still draws a few of his old fans to his concerts, and they occasionally request his old music. "I don't talk to them," he explains in a coffee shop near his Chicago hotel two days after the concert. "If they keep it up, I tell them: 'Look, if you want to live in the past, go live in the past. But don't try and take us with you.' " '

In later years he was, apparently, more interested in new music - noisy stuff, Bang on a Can, punk, and the big guns like Stockhausen.

On this website you will also find some of his words and writings:

"Therefore remember what I, the Great Koonaklaster taught you through my magic apples:
1. The official is appearance only. In the long run, the strongest are the weakest.
2. The official exists for the sole purpose of your edification, and making your edification
the more actual, enduring and real.
3. He who has ears let him hear.
4. The humorous cynicism I taught you in reason, science, and music----that the exercise
of this organ alone or in concert, is the greatest source of joy and wisdom short of the
forthcoming all-in-the-all and the altogether in the altogether, when we shall all be one.
5. Finally the source of daily strength and joy comes by chanting the mantras I have given
you in "John Fahey"’s book SPANK.
And finally--- the strongest of all:

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