- Gebundene Ausgabe: 221 Seiten
- Verlag: Chicago Review Pr (1. Juni 2014)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 1613745192
- ISBN-13: 978-1613745199
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 15,2 x 2 x 22,9 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 370.854 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
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Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 1. Juni 2014
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"Heartfelt but evenhanded." --The Big Takeover
""Dance of Death" benefits from astute research and interviews with friends, contemporaries, fellow musicians, and family, painting a vivid picture of a remarkable man." "Under the Radar" "
The wonderfully inventive, even utopian guitarist John Fahey spun what seemed to be an impenetrable web around his life, but Steve Lowenthal has picked away the strands with dogged research and eloquent passion, revealing an artist worth knowing and caring about. Gary Giddins, "Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams" and "Visions of Jazz""
John Fahey was a renegade, an outlier of the academy investigating the true mystic roots of the American blues psyche. It is our great fortune to have Steve Lowenthal s steadfast and diligently researched biography of this remarkable iconoclast who inarguably inspired a generation and beyond of radical/traditional music freaks. Thurston Moore"
"Heartfelt but evenhanded." The Big Takeover "
"Offer[s] a sympathetic portrait of a troubled yet undeniably talented man." --Booklist "Lowenthal shows with new clarity that for as much as he's been imitated, Fahey's artistic vision was wildly unique." --PopMatters "What Dance of Death--with a foreword by Rolling Stone's David Fricke--accomplishes best is zeroing in on Fahey's discomfort in his own skin, his solace in music, his passion, and his ultra-high standards of music integrity." --Acoustin Guitar
"Dance of Death benefits from astute research and interviews with friends, contemporaries, fellow musicians, and family, painting a vivid picture of a remarkable man." --Under the Radar
"If you have any love for the sound of a guitar and haven't heard him, hustle to your music source and get "The Best of John Fahey" to listen to while reading Lowenthal's book. You won't be disappointed." --Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
"The fate of the markedly talented and decidedly peculiar, even misanthropic Fahey is told engagingly and with insight by Steve Lowenthal in a compact but potent new biography, Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist." --NewRepublic.com
"Lowenthal deftly balances Fahey's achievements and shortcomings, and in the process humanizes an extremely talented and profoundly troubled man." --Baltimore Magazine
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I have to say for me, though, the experience of reading it was somewhat painful. Like any Fahey fan I knew the sad way his life ended, and experiencing this uniquely American artist's decline was challenging.
What about the "Blind Joe Death Saga of John Fahey DVD"? Well, get that too. The creative people did a great job setting beautiful imagery to Fahey's music. You can pretty much skip the interviews on that DVD as they are 50% content free for all but diehard Pete Townshend fans.
What makes this book so great?
It focuses on Fahey himself. Lowenthal obviously made a huge effort to interview ALL of the key people throughout Fahey's life, not just the readily accessible handful who came to know him over his last decade. Fortunately, they are included as well.
Next, it stays away from the music itself. Yes, Lowenthal dutifully cites the well worn "Ives/Bartok/classical music over traditional fingerpicking" quote which has never really applied to more than a handful of Fahey's compositions. Fahey was a creative genius composer who listened widely to all types of music. The closest that we're ever going to come to understanding his creativity is found in the rambling text in "The Best of John Fahey 1959-1977 tablature book. This book actually does reference some of that as well, so it really is as good as it gets on his music and Lowenthal wisely knows when to stop.
Finally, it focuses on the people and experiences in Fahey's life and through them we come to understand Fahey about as well as we can. If you've spent time reading his liner notes, his books, etc then you will enjoy getting a better understanding of the faces, emotions and histories behind the liner notes. For the first time, diehard fans understand the meaning of "Koonaklaster" (although a few of them seem to still be referring to Fahey himself as the "Koonaklaster" here while reviewing (and I assume, first reading?) this wonderful book.... oh well, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.
I was interested to learn that alone among peers, only Village Voice critic Nat Hentoff liked "Of Rivers and Religion", writing "I was not prepared for what I heard in this album. I've been absorbed in all kinds of music for a long time, and only rarely have the first few notes of a musician I'm listening to for the first time announced a wholly singular presence-- an event". I agree with him that "Rivers and Religion" was a masterpiece, and I would include "Old Fashioned Love" and "After the Ball" as well. That makes two critics, as I worked as a published music critic and later an editor seemingly a lifetime ago. While the general consensus will always be that these releases were campy and plastic copies of the originals, they opened a window to 20's Jazz for me. In my humble opinion, these reworked versions exceed the originals in every respect and there are also many hauntingly beautiful Fahey compositions such as "Dixie Pig Bar-B-Q Blues" so perhaps these critics ought to give those 3 records another spin or two.
Fahey's last good record was "Let Go", a collaboration with Terry Robb which was soon followed by their weaker 1985 "Rain Forests" release. After this we hit the 1990's and here we run into the only truly weak and inaccurate point in the book. Not some trivial misstep such as the botched assertion that David Grisman was the Dead's lyricist... No, here Lowenthal goes completely off the tracks in a bizarre attempt to portray the 90's as some sort of paradigm shift where tortured soul artists somehow emerge to snatch control of the recording industry from the NYC suits! Here he is talking about the Seattle scene, an era which epitomized complete and total lock down by the "star maker machinery behind the popular song" which Joni Mitchell had so famously criticized. Ironically, Mitchell herself who is the very definition of a non-mainstream tortured soul first found herself unable to get recording contracts at all in this very era. Some "rebellion" against the "powers that be"!!!
It's fortunate that Lowenthal generally stays away from the music in the book, because the truth was that 90's Seattle was about as derivative as rock gets with 3 or 4 bands which idolized Neil Young and blew all of our minds solely because they were the first American generation to like, prefer and slavishly imitate their parents' music. Far from talent or creativity, it sounded "real" only because it aped the real music that the kids had heard throughout their childhoods in the back seats of their parents cars. They bought it and the industry rushed in to endlessly reissue that music and to sign every imitative band in sight to enormous contracts, regardless of talent. The whole scene peaked with "Miror Ball", a Neil Young/Pearl Jam collaboration which marked somewhat of a low point for Young and a career peak for Pearl Jam. Crazy Horse were the big winners as their reputation increased astronomically once we had all heard the "new hard rocking alternative". Today these "kids" have music collections which contain 90% 60's/70's and little of Seattle... check out your own kids' collections. How could Lowenthal get this so very wrong?
To his credit, Lowenthal does not go so far as to praise Fahey's work in this period. In fact, he reveals that "Juana", Fahey's only really good composition in that era, was actually played and recorded by Jim O'Rourke as Fahey struggled to play it.
All in all this is required reading for a Fahey fan and this is very likely to stand as the definitive Fahey biography.
I was introduced to his Takoma releases beginning with Blind Joe Death in the early 1970s. I would be classified as one of those aging hippies he disliked because they wanted him to continue to play the same stuff he had composed in the 1950s. I remember being put off by his liner notes with the 'put ons' that he wrote.
I recall his editorials in Guitar Player magazine way back then, with phrases including, "the ontological fixity," drew a lot of ridicule from readers who commented in letters to the editor. They thought him pretentious if I remember correctly. Of course Fahey would have classified such critics as the "midgets" he said he was surrounded by, and maybe that is right.
So it is a sad story of a man whom I suppose you could accurately say was a tortured genius, whose personal demons derailed his life. I am curious as to why the author didn't include more on Fahey's relationship with Stefan Grossman. He recorded a live concert for Grossman, and a guitar lesson series, with an interview. Bottom line is for those who are curious as to the life of John Fahey I recommend the book.
y'r ol' Bud,