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5.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to the very enigmatic John Fahey
A good introduction to the very enigmatic John Fahey, a true pioneer in the sense of the word he paved the way for a complete new style of guitar playing in America, often called "American Primitive" it was not flashy or required great technical technique but was more focused on what a person with a guitar in their hands and their imagination could create...
Published 8 months ago by D. J.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Honourable Failure!
So, the challenge to write and/ or record the story of John Fahey continues. Like the film, this book is fair enough but only scrapes the surface. Perhaps this is inevitable: most people I know who only have a passing appreciation of Fahey - 'nice 'folk tunes' - would not read this book. Those that 'get it' do not need to read this book. Anyone who knows Fahey, knows most...
Published 9 months ago by Prof Michael Grenfell


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Honourable Failure!, 23 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: DANCE OF DEATH (Hardcover)
So, the challenge to write and/ or record the story of John Fahey continues. Like the film, this book is fair enough but only scrapes the surface. Perhaps this is inevitable: most people I know who only have a passing appreciation of Fahey - 'nice 'folk tunes' - would not read this book. Those that 'get it' do not need to read this book. Anyone who knows Fahey, knows most of this book. It is really journalism with the focus on the people that passed through his life. I knew most of it. Nevertheless, I did gain a rather different perspective on girlfriends and the many people that did try to support him. I also found various other little 'revisions' that were quite important. John liked to dramatise his life - all the claims of abuse and analyse, etc. True in its way. 'Mythologising' his music was a master stroke - and caused him great mirth, of course. But, the line between truth and fiction became blurred sometimes. For example, I did not know he did in fact have the odd blues guitar lesson; 'I could never stand a teacher, nor they me'. Drama. And, sort of true...but....I have a recording of him receiving a lesson in hymn tunes!!
I met John in 1989 at the Cambridge Folk Festival and did a long interview with him for the UK Guitar Magazine. I found him affable and willing to engage but he could see I knew his music - I also saw him in disdain of others who wanted to talk about turtles!!. True to form, he bought be the biggest, greasiest burger I have ever had. He was taking pills all the time. It was also the only time I have seen someone down a bottle of wine in one go - to counter stage fright he said. His playing was amazing - I have recordings. He certainly lived in the moment. Walking across to the stage, someone stopped him, asked him if he was John Fahey, and gave him an airline ticket for his next concert in Italy. Pure chance! but he simply stuffed the ticket in his pocket without batting an eyelid and carried on walking!
John was not really a guitarist; really, more a contemporary, classical composer. The few pieces of his that have been orchestrated prove the point: like 'Three Rivers'.
So, this book is credible but very slight. Many music pieces hardly get a mention or not at all: The Nut House, The Mill Pond, Azalea City, not to mention Yes! Jesus Loves You. There is also a lot more to say about his writings and paintings: views of psychology, philosophy, politics.. I have various written pieces like 'Performance as War'. I know others who have a lot more.. These and other writings deserve a better treatment - along with the music. Its essence does not come across in this sketchy book.
It probably needs a PhD at least - if not more than one! One day, someone else there will do it. It's waiting!! But, I have respect for what this book does do - a kind of honourable failure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to the very enigmatic John Fahey, 4 Sept. 2014
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D. J. "DeeJay" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: DANCE OF DEATH (Hardcover)
A good introduction to the very enigmatic John Fahey, a true pioneer in the sense of the word he paved the way for a complete new style of guitar playing in America, often called "American Primitive" it was not flashy or required great technical technique but was more focused on what a person with a guitar in their hands and their imagination could create.
John Fahey had his own vision of what he wanted to do and this would sometimes lead to a very erratic life, he also had the foresight to see and encourage other guitar players from the genius of Leo Kottke to the more esoteric playing of Robbie Basho.
He also had a very perverse sense of humour (Live in Tasmania/read the story). His later life became very dysfunctional, an illness zapped his energy and money problems were never far away, his last years were spent in motels and hostels and though some wanted to help him he seemed to be past caring.
His music lives on, his compositions are still played by many guitarists and he left a legacy of over forty albums.
A well written book by Steve Lowenthal (who also runs his own record label for acoustic guitar players) and a must for any one interested in not only acoustic guitar but some great music.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A labyrinthine life in a short book, 24 Aug. 2014
By 
Wheel (Greater London,U.K.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: DANCE OF DEATH (Hardcover)
The previous two reviews of this book are spot on. If I were to be ungenerous it would get two stars, but giving it three stars is probably about right . Because the subject is such a fascinating figure this is an engaging read, but it should be far more so. The psychology of the man is immense and is too little understood here. His musical influences and loves could be discussed and written of in far more depth. Too often the author here though simply doesn't understand or dismisses parts of Fahey's music and life, he can come across as a pathetic figure rather than a flawed person of great complexity. Seeing as though Rebecca Davis excellent biography of Fahey's friend Alan Wilson - who lived to 27, is 265 pages long, and this biography of John Fahey - who lived to 61, is 220 pages, with the text and page size about the same, you can see how much more should have been included. Davis' book is a full account of Alan Wilson's life, this book is an imperfect starter on John Fahey's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as it should be., 2 July 2014
By 
Frederick Sheppard (Madrid Espana) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: DANCE OF DEATH (Hardcover)
As someone who was there for numerous episodes of John's life, I find the accounts in this book to be quite different from the truth as I know it. Quite light reading actually, the print is double spaced and there is not nearly as much to be had in this book as there should be.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 12 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: DANCE OF DEATH (Hardcover)
great
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