Sometimes, when I wake up on a summer morning, I listen to John Fahey.
Days Have Gone By, Volume 6
(1967; Reissued 2006 Takoma UK)
1. Revolt of the Dyke Brigade
2. Impressions of Susan
3. Joe Kirby Blues
4. Night Train of Valhalla
5. Portland Cement Factory at Monolith, California
6. Raga Called Pat, Pt. 1
7. Raga Called Pat, Pt. 2
8. My Shepherd Will Supply My Needs
9. My Grandfather’s Clock
10. Days Have Gone By
11. We Should Be Building
Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
Sam Graham once referred to Fahey as the “curmudgeon of the acoustic guitar,” while producer Samuel Charters noted that Fahey “was the only artist I ever worked with whose sales went down after he made public appearances.” This tumultuous spirit, in turn, made tumultuous music on albums like Days Have Gone By, filled with odd harmonics, discord, and rare beauty. The esoteric titles like “Night Train of Valhalla” stand beside more abrasive ones like “The Revolt of the Dyke Brigade.” Fahey’s guitar work on the latter song, however, does little to evoke the title. Instead, it reminds one of what might happen if a guitar player from the Far East, familiar with open tunings, interpreted Blind Blake. “Impressions of Susan” combines the same odd tunings with nice, and at times joyful, fingerpicking. Dissonance, though, remains the primary mood that Fahey’s guitar resonates. “The Portland Cement Factory at Monolith, California” begins with a lovely cascade of notes, only to fall into odd harmonics that create a pensive foreboding. To call attention to the disharmony and discord, though, is not a criticism. Days Have Gone By, like all of Fahey’s early- and mid-’60s work, expands American blues traditions by enriching the palette of the guitar with Eastern tunings. He may create a challenging work like “A Raga Called Pat–Part Two” that is difficult to interpret, but its opulence is undeniable. Fahey has often been grouped with new age music but this — especially with his early work — is somewhat of a misnomer. New age strives to build harmony; Fahey revels in conflict. Days Have Gone By is another rewarding reissue of the master’s classic ’60s work and will be eagerly greeted by guitar aficionados.