john fahey – the transfiguration of blind joe death

Full album (1965).

In a review for the 1967 Takoma reissue, ED Denson called the liner notes (by Alan Wilson of Canned Heat) “…a paranoid vision of reality unrivalled since Kafka. Nothing is what it purports to be directly, but everything is “in a certain sense” — people make statements like characters in B-grade horror films, the trivial becomes significant, the meaningful, nothing.”

The notes begin thus:

faheyA disgusting, degenerate, insipid young folklorist from the Croat & Isaiah Nettles Foundation for Ethnological Research meandered mesmerically midst marble mansions in Mattapan, Massachusetts. It was an unsavory, vapid day in the summer of 2010 as the jejune air from Back Bay transubstantiated itself autologically and gradually into an ozone-like atmosphere.

Knocking on a random door, haphazardly, the tasteless young man pondered the Hebraic inscription on the marble-tiled foot-brush, soporifically: “I wonder what the hell that means,” he said to himself reflexively.

The foot-brush backed itself into a corner at bay, with its back to the wall. Then, hissing at the wishy-washy young man, it reared up on its hind leg & stared into space, vociferously & stoicly.

At this juncture a somewhat equivocal shoe-shine man opened the door, munching on a vacant popsicle stick. Before greeting the young man he reached up with a tentacle and stroked the aging foot brush on its fore, thus quieting the beast’s existential anxiety.

“Pardon me,” the unflavored young man said casually, “Do you have any old arms and legs you’d like to sell? I’m paying thirty-seven, twenty-five, ninety-six, twelve cents apiece for old arms & legs depending on the condition they’re in.”

“Just one moment,” the splotched ontology professor mumbled, “I think we may have a few out back in the quagmire, or possibly near the fen, or then again we may have some by the waters of the boggy bayou. I must point out, however, that it is quite possible that we have none left. And I should also say that we may never have had any anyway. I certainly can’t remember ever having any.

Since the past went into a flux it’s very difficult to remember anything, you know. But I’ll certainly take a look. And don’t be afraid of my foot-brush. He’s been in the family for years. And, while it is quite true to say that he hisses a lot, and he certainly does, it is also quite true to say that he never bites anyone except when he does. But this is not the same as to say that he has actually bitten people, and I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say that, because, well, for one thing I can’t remember anyway. But I’ll go look for those arms & legs like I said I would. Did I say I would?”

“Yes, you did,” the stale young man replied weakly.

“Well, then I will, in all probability,” the aging grave-digger muttered as he faded gradually through the irregular portal.

Read the rest HERE and more notes about the album HERE.

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