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10 JAN 12 DAVID SHANNON
As a kid my dad's record collection accounted for some of my earliest impressions, but through time many of these memories have become cobwebby, shadowed by later experiences and more recent tastes. Yet my early exposure to his John Fahey albums, particularly The Transfiguration Of Blind Joe Death, remains a clear -- but somehow opaque -- recollection because of the eerie cover art that always adorned Fahey's early solo guitar releases and the spookiness of his playing.
In fact, it may have been the crude folk art on many of Fahey's albums and the inscrutable sound of his warped blues coming from the family record player that keep Fahey somewhat shrouded for me even after years of subsequent listening. Much of it boils down to Fahey's downright weirdness. From the image of a breathless man fleeing with a talking turtle under his arm from a family of zombie cat people (the gatefold art of Fahey's incredible America album) to the minimalist picking of songs with obscure titles like "On Doing an Evil Deed Blues" and "The Transcendental Waterfall," Fahey had a lasting but mystifying impact on me that still resonates every time I experience him.
My dad tells me Fahey could be pretty weird live as well. Legend goes that after finishing the first set of a show in London, instead of continuing he simply said, "It feels like it is time to go home," after which he did just that. These days listening to Fahey makes me want to be back home myself, in the living room combing my dad's records, fascinated and puzzled by the solo guitarist with the strange song titles and preternatural guitar.