Liner Notes to the 1998 reissue

Note: This CD contains 98.6 percent of the music recorded by John Fahey for AMERICA, which was originally conceived of as a double album but released as a single LP.
Given the technical constraints of the Compact Disc medium-79 minutes playing time-we were forced to edit two minutes from one track ("Mark 1:15"). The only alternative would have been to release a more expensive 2-CD set.

Excerpts from Charles M. Young's notes...

On the album:

I bought my first copy of America a year or two after it first came out in 1971. There had been a flood in the student co-op record store on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin, and I only had to pay a dollar because the cover was soggy and mildewed. The vinyl was in fine shape, however, and I remember being astonished at the power this music had over my brain, how I could immediately relax when I put it on the stereo, how my imagination would soar. If they had allowed me to listen to it when I took my SAT test, I suspect my score would have doubled. All this stuff I read about Mozart increasing IQ-I want those psychologists to text the "Fahey effect."
I was also amazed that one guy with one guitar could play one song for almost 18 minutes, which John does on "Mark 1:15." In the Gideon Bible in the hotel room in which I write these words, Mark 1:15 quotes Jesus saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." A deceptively simple message to accompany John's deceptively simple sense of melody. John has always believed in accessibility, in communicating, in mysticism but not mystification, and as Jesus discovered two millenia ago, that's when people get the most confused.

On the decline of baseball batting averages:

...Gould quoted lots of speculation on the cause of this "decline," most of it arguing for the supposed greater toughness and desire of earlier athletes. Then he made a strong statistical case that because of the enlarged talent pool, improved fielding, improved pitching, improved coaching, and improved sports medicine, the average professional baseball player of today was vastly better than his counterpart in the sport's formative years.The excellent players had hit an absolute wall of biological limits on speed and dexterity, while the average players inexorably learned all their tricks. Barring major rules changes to open this closed system, we can assume that baseball excellence will have an ever harder time distinguishing itself from mediocrity - harder for the athlete to achieve, and harder for the fan to discern.

On the steel-string acoustic guitar:

..., but I think it has to do with how John holds the guitar. He often bends over it, like a boy getting his first guitar on Christmas morning, placing his ear over the soundhole and strumming E over and over again. Listening to your chord decay in the air - it's so wonderful you don't even want to learn A. (John has) ...always been reluctant to depart that first perfect E unless he has good melodic reason.

On the reissue:

I'm thrilled that this reissue of America has room for all the music that John originally recorded. It was a masterpiece then, and it's twice the masterpiece now.

- Charles M. Young
October 20, 1997