Sunflower River Blues
A tribute to Charlie Patton, composed by Fahey in Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 1963. Open C tuning. [Technical note: to the best of the editors' knowledge there are no examples of the use of open C tuning prior to the first recordings of Fahey and Robbie Basho, indicating it may have been a Fahey innovation.]
When The Springtime Comes Again
Co-authored by Pat Sullivan, of whom it has been said that she was “the coolest. blues chick on the East Coast.” (R. Robinson).
Early pressings of the album credited this as Fahey/Sullivan. In a 1992 interview Fahey said of Pat Sullivan in this period: “I had all these pieces in my head, you know, and she seemed to be able to hear them, I swear. She was more certain of me and my talent than I was. We had two guitars and we were doing all these incredible things and learning new stuff every day just by listening to each other. I mean, we’d play for eight hours and think nothing of it, day after day after day.”
So why did the composer credit of this brilliant piece contract to just “Fahey” on later editions?
The title of the piece is taken from the song of the same name by The Carter Family. Their melody is unrelated to Fahey’s.
For future incarnations of the main theme see: The Fahey Sampler (1965, 1967) and Mark 1:15 (1970).
Stomping Tonight On The Pennsylvania/Alabama Border
JF in 1970: “The opening chords are from the last movement of Vaughan Williams’ Sixth Symphony. It goes from there to a Skip James motif [Special Rider Blues and also cf Devil Got my Woman]. Following that it moves to a Gregorian chant, Dies Irae. It’s the most scary one in the Episcopal hymn books – it’s all about the day of judgement. Then it returns to the Vaughan Williams chords, followed by a blues run of undetermined origin, then back to Skip James and so forth.” We also note phrases which occur in Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Airplane Blues.
Some Summer Day
The finished article from the Fonotone single, Some Summer Day No.2 [6221]
DDD says:
“The first version of Some Summer Day No.2 is by Charlie Patton. Specialists may find a comparison amusing.”
I think that might be because at the time of this session (June '62) a copy of that Patton single had not been located. So later DDD says the song was “named after a lost Patton work”. The Fonotone version is actually a song, i.e. with (rudimentary) lyrics, which Fahey sings, if you call it singing. Which makes it a unique item in the canon. Uniqueness is not necessarily to be striven for. {See Dorothy for the second and last song with lyrics Fahey wrote.}
On The Beach At Waikiki
Helen Louise and Frank Ferera issued a song of this title circa 1930 but I can find no melodic congruity with Fahey’s piece. I guess he just pinched the title (again). See also New Waikiki Beach by Jenks "Tex" Carmen.
John Henry Variations
This includes a lot of Lonesome Weary Blues by Roy Harvey and Leonard Copeland (rereleased on Old Time Mountain Guitar on County 503, an essential album for Fahey fans), plus Vastopol by Elizabeth Cotton and countless others, and we also hear Mississippi John Hurt’s Stack o’Lee Blues in there.
The Downfall Of The Adelphi Rolling Grist Mill
This song was recorded during the first major West Coast session and featured Nancy McLean on the flute. (DDD) 12-string guitar.
Take A Look At That Baby
From The Two Poor Boys, 1927.
Dance Of The Inhabitants Of The Palace Of King Phillip XIV
JF : “Another strange tuning – a low C, then two Cs an octave above that, then G, E, and a high C. I played it lap-style on a triple resonator National. I kept changing the title – originally it was Dance Of The Inhabitants Of The Invisible City Of Bladensburg, inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Legend Of The Invisible City Of Kitezh.”
One of the very few instances of studio effects in Fahey’s recordings. Also one of the even fewer examples of JF playing the 12-string guitar.
Episcopal Hymn
Title is At the Name of Jesus.