Our Song of the Day is from a 1969 video of John Fahey “the father of American Primitive Guitar” performing ‘Red Pony’. According to the sleeve notes on his third release The Dance of Death & Other Plantation Favorites (1964) the track Wine and Roses was later re-titled by Fahey to ‘Red Pony’. He came up with the tune after hearing Mancini’s “Days of Wine and Roses” on the radio and tried to play it from memory.
On the invaluable website www.johnfahey.com which is an incredible resource you can find Lee Gardners notes for the 1999 re-issue of The Dance of Death and Other Plantation Favorites there is further mention of big band influences which seem rooted in Fahey’s childhood memories:
Meanwhile, the beguiling title track [Dance of Death] has its roots in afternoons Fahey spent in the kitchen with his mother as a boy, listening to big bands on the radio: “It was kind of an imitation of a swing band piece by Benny Goodman called “Sing, Sing, Sing’ – an imitation of a swing band playing blues.” The piece jigs with the kind of macabre glee that continues to be a Fahey hallmark.
Last year I mentioned that first definitive biography John Fahey will be published in June 2014 by Chicago Review Press. Dance of Death: The Life Of John Fahey–American Guitarist was written by Steve Lowenthal who is also a writer and editor of Swingset Magazine, runs the label Plastic Records and curates the Vin du Select Qualitie series of solo acoustic guitar releases such as the discordant ballads of Thurston Moore.
I’ve just pre-ordered my copy so if you want one now is the time to do so. Pre-order it via Amazon
Also James Cullingham’s biographical documentary In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey is now out on DVD and can be ordered on import. Watch the trailer below:
Although there doesn’t appear to be many in stock In Search of Blind Joe Death: Saga of John Fahey can be purchased in PAL DVD format via Amazon here.
Make sure you pay a visit to http://www.johnfahey.com/ and check out the Fahey Files on there.