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Acoustic Americana

John Fahey: “On the Sunny Side of the Ocean”

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John Fahey is one of the most unique guitarists ever. He was eccentric–I’ve heard a few stories over the years–and very influential.

Here are In Christ There is No East or West and Steamboat Gwine Round da Bend. The later is from the album Of Rivers and Religionwhich is a masterpiece. I’m no expert, but it seems to me that he took music from the area around New Orleans, slowed it down and drew out its poignant nature. But please correct me if that’s off base.

I highly recommend this version of Phil Phillips’ Sea of Love because it’s great and shows just how different Fahey was.

Fahey died in 2001. Here is an article about Fahey that originally appeared in The New York Times–I’ll try to change the link to the original later–and Fahey’s site.

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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