A Song a Day
It is my intention to post an instrumental track every day throughout the month of February in memory and appreciation of John Fahey, who was born on the 28th Feb 1939 and died 22nd Feb 2001.
Over The Long Mynd
Day 1 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Here’s an instrumental tune, I love to play, on my recently purchased Pete Gosden weissenborn: Over The Long Mynd.
Hope you enjoy this offering, it’s 5.51 long so hope you can make it to the end.
Wine & Roses
Day 2 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Today I bring you Wine & Roses, composed by John Fahey after re-discovering legendary bluesman Skip James in 1964.
Fahey was a devout blues enthusiast and was having trouble figuring out the alternative guitar tunings used by Skip James… so he decided to track down the forgotten (at the time) musician, not knowing if he was even still alive let alone still playing and performing! James was eventually found, suffering from cancer, at a hospital in Tunica, Arkansas. He did enjoy (some might say endured) something of a renaissance until his death in 1969, which was largely, if not entirely, due to John Fahey (Henry Vestine later of Canned Heat and Bill Barth should also get a mention).
This song was allegedly written a week or two after the meeting, as Fahey now had knowledge of that elusive tuning. Dm - DADFAD in case you’re wondering.
Tears In Tijuana
Day 3 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Dusted off my trusty old strat for todays tune, Tears In Tijuana.
I recorded an acoustic version of this on my second album, Now Was The Time back in 2008. Since discovered it sounds quite nice on electric with some subtle whammy and echo, a la Hank Marvin!
I came up with the idea whilst feeling very sorry for myself in a dodgy bar ‘cantina’ in Tijuana, Mexico, 1989.
Ride a White Swan
Day 4 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Ride A White Swan. Only those of a certain age will remember this, the first big hit for T Rex in 1970! I’ve no idea how/why I started playing it as an instrumental as the lyrics always intrigued me as a kid, here they are if you’d like to sing along:
Ride it on out like a bird in the sky ways
Ride it on out like you were a bird
Fly it all out like an eagle in a sunbeam
Ride it on out like you were a bird
Wear a tall hat like a druid in the old days
Wear a tall hat and a tattooed gown
Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltane
Wear your hair long, babe, you can't go wrong
Catch a bright star and place it on your fore-head
Say a few spells and baby there you go
Take a black cat
Sit it on your shoulder
And in the morning you'll know all you know
Thanks for listening and as ever share if you feel the need.
In Christ There Is No East Or West
Day 5 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
In Christ There Is No East Or West. A John Fahey arrangement of an old spiritual hymn and probably one of his most popular. There’s a ton of versions on youtube and there’s plenty of scores and tabs if you fancy having a go!?
I’m not a religious person and I’m not sure if Fahey was but his catalogue is littered with hymns and gospel spirituals. For me it’s music that has so much depth and soul and you don’t have to be a ‘believer’ to appreciate and enjoy it. If it moves you…
Smile. While The Sun Is Shining.
Day 6 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Smile, While The Sun Is Shining. When it’s miserable, gloomy and raining with no end in sight, like it’s been down here in Cornwall today, then hopefully this song might just cheer you up.
I’ve Roger Carter, the ex headmaster of our daughters primary school, to thank for the title of this song: we was talking, very maudlin, on a gorgeous spring morning, he looks to the sky and says “you have to smile while the sun is shining”.
Hope you’re enjoying the song a day, I’m loving it, please share if you like.
Day 7 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Robert Belfour has to be one the most underrated, unrecognised bluesman ever! He released only two albums on the Fat Possum label, very late in life: What’s Wrong With You and Pushin’ My Luck which includes tonights song, Hillstomp.
Hailing from the North Mississippi hill country, his hypnotic guitar technique and vocal style always carry me away somewhere good.
Although I’ll never come close to the vibe he creates it’s such a joy to play and I just love to have a go.
It’s slight departure from the John Fahey themed acoustic guitar excursions, I know, but… not really… it’s all Blues to me.
Thanks for listening and sharing
Night Train to Valhalla
Day 8 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Night Train To Valhalla. A John Fahey tune off his Days Have Gone By album released in 1967, although Fahey claimed it was written much earlier in 1959 while working at a gas station.
It’s quite an intense demanding piece, the guitar is tuned to open G while the song is played in the key of D, which gives it an odd resonance.
Fahey was a big train enthusiast, of which he was very knowledgeable; one of my favourite albums, Railroad, pays homage to the US railway network. Not sure how well versed he was on Norse Mythology though.
Thanks for listening and please share.
The Wedding Song
Day 9 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
'The song that I bring to you today, maybe should have been brought to you on Valentines Day….but I believe that you should declare your love for someone every day, not just on a day that is designed to profit the card shops, supermarkets, florists etc, So I offer you this tune today.
‘The Wedding Song’ is inspired by the Led Zepplin version of a Joan Baez song, called ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ which is played in a descending minor.
I wondered how it would sound in a descending major, and therefore bring a more cheerful and positive meaning to the tune, and ‘The Wedding Song’ is the result.
There couldn’t be a more poignant title for a song, as this was played, as my wife walked in to marry me, at our wedding back in 2005.
This is probably the song’s first public airing, as it’s always been kind of personal to me, but it’s one of Mandy’s favourites, and she insists that I share it.
Hope that you enjoy it.'
Beautiful Linda Getchell
Day 10 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Throughout the month of February I’m posting an instrumental song a day in memory and appreciation of the influential guitarist John Fahey, who was born 28th Feb 1939 and died 22nd Feb 2001.
Today I’m joined by my good friend and master musician, Mr Mike Jelly, performing Beautiful Linda Getchell.
Another Fahey composition, off his 1965 album The Transfiguration Of Blind Joe Death.
Linda Getchell, one of many girlfriends Fahey became obsessed and infatuated with, this song was presumably written and recorded before it, inevitably, went horribly wrong.
The intriguing 29 page booklet, that accompanies the album portrays “a Getchell” as some kind of caged, man eating, wild animal!
Fahey’s, sometimes surrealistic, writing of very tall tales, makes fascinating, mesmerising reading - in my opinion. I would recommend, How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life; an auto biography thats skits between fact and fantasy and visits some very dark, disturbing places.
Hope you enjoy this, thanks to Mike and please share.
Sunflower River Blues
Day 11 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Another very popular John Fahey tune, Sunflower River Blues.
It’s possible that Fahey was the first musician to record with the guitar tuned open C (CGCGCE). He may even have been the first to discover it. First released on the Death Chants, Breakdowns & Military Waltzes album in 1963.
This song clearly (IMO) inspired Jimmy Page’s Born Yr Aur on Led Zeppelins Physical Graffitti album. Pagey was a big fan Fahey and there’s a few instances where his influence can be heard, some of which I will highlight over the coming weeks.
Thanks for listening, hope you enjoy it and please share.
Song for Sunday
Day 12 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Song For Sunday. With things being a bit rushed, as I have a gig this afternoon, I wasn’t sure what to upload for today's song.
Rather than record something I know like the back of my hand, to save time, which would be the sensible thing to do… I choose to play an idea I’ve been messing about with the last few days - hence the imaginative title, false starts and hesitancy in places.
It’s work in progress, it’s rough and ready but I like the vibe and love playing my weissenborn.
Hope you enjoy it too
Day 13 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
I’m posting an instrumental song a day throughout the month of February in memory an appreciation of the ‘American Primitive’ guitarist John Fahey
Day 13 sees Mike Jelly and I jamming around the country blues standard, Poor Boy.
Day 14 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Not so happy valentines for some, especially those on the wrong end of Jolene’s devious intentions.
A fantastic song, by a fantastic singer and a sublime songwriter. Although the heartbreaking poetry is absent, I hope that the song still retains some of it’s sadness and desperation.
It’s not an exact interpretation, I’ve added a few bits here and there, but most importantly keeping that killer opening riff/motif/hook that, I believe, Dolly actually plays herself on the original recording.
Enjoy and please share.
Sail Away Ladies
Day 15 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Day 15 of my song a day celebration and appreciation of guitarist John Fahey, who was born February 28th 1939 and died 22nd February 2001.
Sail Away Ladies. Sometimes the most simple of tunes are the hardest to get right. This is a very simple, almost childlike, melody that I’ve been trying to get a passable version of for sometime.
It’s derived from old an fiddle/bluegrass tune, first recorded in 1926 by the curiously named Uncle Bunt Stephens!
John Fahey scalped it for his 1966 album The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party, he’s likely to have first heard it on Harry Smiths Anthology Of American Music issued in 1956, although Fahey was a keen record collector from his late teens onwards.
Hope you enjoy my attempt and please share if you like.
Day 16 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
In memory of Jack Rose who was born this day in 1971 - he died December 5th 2009.
Jack Rose was a guitarist very much in the vein of John Fahey, mainly solo acoustic instrumental.
This is a’ variation’ of John Hurts Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord. Jack recorded a gorgeous version of this on his Raags and Manifestos album.
Having heard Mississippi John Hurts version first, I’ve taken choice bits from both and added a few things of my own.
Enjoy and please share.
Dance of the Inhabitants of the Palace of King Phillip XIV of Spain
Day 17 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Day 17 of my song a day in remberance of ‘American Primitive’ guitarist John Fahey.
Dance Of The Inhabitants Of The Palace Of King Phillip XIV Of Spain.
One Fahey’s more curious and certainly most inventive compositions.
First recorded in early 1962; we take for granted all the weird and wonderful sounds we hear from todays artists and musicians - but this must have sounded like it was from another planet at the time he first performed it.
Jimmy Page took note a decade later for the inspiration for Led Zeppelins In My Time Of Dying.
Thanks for listening and please share
On the Sunny Side of the Ocean
Day 18 of my Song A Day for February.
On The Sunny Side Of The Ocean. Probably one of my favourite John Fahey pieces to play. You can’t help but get drawn into the intensely changing passages of the composition - hope it’s the same for the listener too!
Fahey regularly opened his live sets with this song throughout the mid seventies, which you can hear on various live albums and bootlegs: Live In Tasmania, On air…
I haven’t changed much in the way of putting my own ’stamp’ on this tune, it’s almost like a classical recital, I think some of Fahey’s work lends itself that approach… in my opinion.
Hope you enjoy it and please share.
Jesus is a Dying Bedmaker
Day 19 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Day 19 of song a day in memory and appreciation of guitarist John Fahey (28th Feb 1939 - 22nd Feb 2001) I bring you the cheerily titled, Jesus Is A Dying Bedmaker. Often played in my live sets and usually quietens a noisy pub for some reason.
Named after a Charley Patton song, whom Fahey was a huge fan, though the music bears no resemblance. Whereas, another John Fahey song, Reqiuem for Mississippi John Hurt (amongst other titles), directly steals the melody from Pattons Jesus Was A Dying Bedmaker! Confused!?
Probably best to just enjoy the song.
Day 20 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
An old favourite for tonights song, Saudade. I’ve been playing this in my live sets for as long as…
First recorded on The Brotherland album, Nightmares & Dreams in 1990! So it’s been around a long time.
Based on Jimmy Pages White Summer, which he pilfered from Davey Grahams, She Moved Through The Fair, whom allegedly discovered the DADGAD tuning (which this song is played in) whilst travelling Morocco and jamming with the local musicians.
Enjoy and please share
Day 21 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Kamaj. A traditional Indian folk tune I learnt from master sitar/tabla player Sam Randawa when I lived in Kent.
There are very strict rules relating to timing and arrangement when it comes to Indian music, none of which are in evidence on this version!
I first recorded it for my No Ghosts In This House album in 2011.
its made occasional live appearances over the years, will probably make a few more as I love the way this weissenborn sounds.
Requiem for Mississippi John Hurt
Day 22 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
On this day in 2001 John Fahey peacefully ‘shuffled off this mortal coil’ due to complications of heart surgery.
Fahey wrote Requiem For John Hurt (also known as Funeral Song For Mississippi John Hurt) after the passing of the adored country bluesman, Mississippi John Hurt, late 1966.
I thought it only fitting that I play my rendition of it tonight.
Based on an old spiritual by (amongst many others) Charley Patton; as I’ve mentioned before Fahey was a huge Patton fan and this song steals the melody directly.
Hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoy playing it.
Dias De Los Meurtos
Day 23 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Dias De Los Muertos (Day Of The Dead).
I have always loved the sound of a nylon strung ‘Spanish’ guitar, though it is a completely different instrument to the steel strung acoustic guitar - of which I’m more familiar and in all honesty, more comfortable.
That doesn’t stop me dabbling now and then.
This song was inspired by the Los Lobos album Il Pistola y El Corozon (The Pistol And The Heart) which I was obsessed with for a time. I tried learning one of the songs, got it all wrong and this was the end result. A lesson in play what you don’t know!
I was a little apprehensive recording it for this project as I have to perform the whole piece in one pass; where as the album version (No Ghosts In This House) each section was recorded separately. I think I got it… as best I could anyway.
Thanks to Simon Bunyan for the loan of his wonderful Yamaha guitar. It’s only been 15/16 years?!
Some Summer Day
Day 24 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February in memory and appreciation of the influential American guitarist John Fahey (28th Feb 1939 - 22nd Feb 2001).
Some Summer Day. Originally released on the Death Chants, Breakdowns & Military Waltzes album by John Fahey in 1963.
The title of a Charley Patton 78 yet to be found by collectors at the time. Being an avid record collector/trader Fahey would’ve been on the look out for this intriguing rarity.
Other than those who purchased the record upon release in 1930 (and Charley Patton wasn’t a big seller), no knew what the song sounded like!
It was discovered a couple of decades later but Fahey was unimpressed, grumbling that it was just another take of The Mississippi Sheiks, Sitting On Top Of The World.
At least he got to write this lazy minor blues.
Day 25 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
Spanish Fandango. An interesting song as it was probably one of the first tunes to be specifically played in open G tuning for the guitar. As a result, many blues musician tuned the guitar in open G (DGDGBD) to play slide/bottleneck guitar as it would perfectly lend itself to that style playing. Hence the tuning became known as ‘Spanish’ among the, then, blues fraternity - after Spanish Fandango.
It was written by an Englishman, Henry Worrall, who was born in Liverpool 1825 who then moved to the USA in 1835 - he copyrighted the song in 1860.
John Fahey would most definitely have heard a version by John Dilleshaw and The String Marvel Band released on OKeh records in 1929, as they are both remarkably similar.
Like so many of his songs, Fahey used several different titles for this tune: On the album After The Ball it’s called Hawaiian Two Step; The Best Of John Fahey he re-records and names it Spanish Two Step; Live In Tasmania it’s Tasmanian Two Step!
I’ve stuck with the original title. During my performance I had a flash of inspiration and completely improvised the middle section. The intention was to keep it short and straight but when the muse appeared from somewhere.. nowhere - I thought I’d go for it.
Thank for listening and please share.
The Majestik XII
Day 26 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February, remembering the solo instrumental acoustic pioneer - John Fahey (28th Feb 1939 - 22nd Feb 2001).
On this miserable Sunday I present to you a Dollimore original, The Majestik XII.
Hope you enjoy it.
The Last Steam Engine Train
Day 27 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
A John Fahey classic, The Last Steam Engine Train, for day 27.
Time was extremely tight today and it wasn’t looking good for getting a song recorded and uploaded.
I managed to bang out this little ditty though, in the nick..
Hope you enjoy and please share.
East of England
Day 28 of Kris's 'Song a Day' in February.
John Fahey would’ve been 78 today, so my song a day through February in remembrance of him and his music, comes to an end.
I’ll finish on a song from my first album called East Of England, it’s what I usually close my gigs with as I find that it clearly states that ‘this is the end’.
Thanks for those who’ve listened, shared and commented, I really appreciate it.
Although it’s been hard work at times, I’ve throughly enjoyed sharing these songs and hope I’ve turned, at least, a few people on to the music of John Fahey - that was always the intention.
Please visit and subscribe to my youtube channel if you’d like to watch again, though I will be posting some of the best bits over coming weeks and months.
Keep the Fahey flag flying!