Miscellaneous Sessions 1959 - 1966

{ § DDD# - denotes a link to the corresponding section of the discography in the liner notes to The Dance of Death.}

This does not circulate, so no notes except to note the first appearance of "Brenda's Blues". DDD notes modern highways and a rising suicide rate.
§ DDD 4

§ DDD 10
A session which does not circulate, apart from the two songs issued by Fonotone.

Pretty Polly [6227*]
One of the most famous American ballads, recorded extensively. Think of an old timey artist, they probably did a version. The tune was used by Woody Guthrie for his great song "Pastures of Plenty", and later by Dylan for "Ballad of Hollis Brown". I love the spookiness of the Vandiver/Fahey version. They don't do so well with..
In the Pines [6227*]
Also recorded by many, under such titles as "Black Girl" and "Lonesome Railroad". In 1964 an English group called the Four Pennies even got a top 20 hit out of it.
Track List - John Fahey / Fran Vandiver from the "Not The Gas Station Tape."

(* marks titles cared for by Chris Downes, Sydney, Australia)

§ DDD 11
JF would seem to be trying out some new compositions. Versions of all these titles except two were issued on later albums, and one (Dance of the Inhabitants of the Palace of King Philip of Spain) was issued in the version from this session.
As the session does not circulate, note two great lost titles: Yazoo Basin Blues, and Dream of the Origin of the French Broad River.
• Dance of the Inhabitants ...Renamed as Dance of the Inhabitants of the Invisible City of Bladensburg (on 'The Yellow Princess'). Unusually, played on a metal resonator guitar. Maybe the one he later gave to Booker White.

§ DDD 12
From ED Denson's notes to "The Seal of the Blue Lotus" by Robbie Basho (1964 - Takoma, reissued 1997 by Fantasy):
Fahey invited [Basho] to the final rehearsal for the Episcopal Youth Show, and one thing led to another until Robbie found himself on the stage in a church playing second guitar while an unsuspecting girl read from the script Fahey had written: "The next song was sung by an old cajun woman discovered by Samual B. Charters in Watertight, Louisiana. No one could understand her dialect, and unfortunately she died the next day before a translator could be found, but the melody survives" and then the ensemble played a Fahey invention, followed by a guitar and kazoo version of an old Columbia record with the church organist...taking lead kazoo."

§ DDD 13

Mostly Fahey sings Charley Patton. It's probable that the song "Days Have Gone By" comes from this session, & if so was retitled. It's possible that "Peavine Blues" is the discographically taxing "Bean Vine Blues" issued on "Voice of the Turtle" (orange version). It's very likely that "Take this Hammer", also issued on VOT, is from this session. Your editors have not been able to confirm this with their own ears so the questions remain moot.
• It seems reasonable to surmise that the 'Take This Hammer' listed here is the one issued on 'Voice of the Turtle'. However, 'Thomas Curtis', the vocalist on the above track, is not listed among the personnel for this session, yet he is listed on the following DDD entry (for May 1962). The discography appears to be unreliable here.

§ DDD 14

From this session comes the terminally strange version of "Will the Circle be Unbroken" with F Lee issued on Volume 4. Also note another great lost title: "The Devil makes Men Split the Atom".

§ DDD 16 & 17

From the notes to VOT: "What was hitherto unknown is that Fahey & McLean did extensive private recordings together at various intervals and that Fahey was (is) in possession of the entirety of them".
It seems that DDD is therefore not complete, because the VOT "Lewisdale Blues" and "900 Miles" are not to be found in these sessions. The latter must be a retitling of one of them, as this is where the Vol 4 notes say it came from. Discographers just have to whine & fret to themselves.

Kuolema, Leaving Home and Memories of Jarvenpaa were considered for release on VOT.
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), the great Finnish composer, wrote incidental music for a production of Arvid Jarnefelt's "Kuolema" - which, incidentally, is also where the great "Valse Triste" comes from.
Memories of Jarvenpaa
VOT notes describes this as a "flute guitar concerto" lasting eleven minutes. Jarvenpaa was Sibelius' country home.
My Station will be Changed After While
From the original by Short Stuff Macon. DDD says "43 takes, abortive", posing the question: was Nancy McLean the Marilyn Monroe of the recording studio?

Track List - John Fahey / Nancy McLean from the "Not The Gas Station Tape."

§ DDD 19

The DDD shows a hiatus from Summer 62 to Summer 63, by which Fahey had relocated to California. His first West Coast recording was something else.
Guitar Excursion into the Unknown
See notes to Vol 4
§ DDD 21

Moon Going Down
Your editors theorise that this duet was later issued on "Voice of the Turtle" under an incorrect title.
West Coast Blues
DDD states this was a solo recording, so maybe is the source for the version issued on Legend, although legend says that version was recorded in August 64.

§ DDD 22

From this session "Steel Guitar rag", "C Tuning" and "Camptown Races" were issued by Fonotone on the notorious "The Early Years" album. "C Tuning" became the intro for the brilliant "Portland Cement Factory" at Monolith California" (Vol 6)
"House Carpenter" also circulates as a so-called "outtake" from "Voice of the Turtle". It's a variation of Clarence Ashley's arrangement which was issued on AAFM (Ashley's song is the Americanised version of Child 243, "The Demon Lover").
A tape purporting to contain "The Sidewalks of New York" briefly circulated in the mid-1980s but was quickly exposed as a fake by Fahey scholars.

§ DDD 25

In which Fahey, Barth and Blind Owl Wilson journey all the way to New York City so that Fahey and Barth can record a guitar tutorial album demonstrating a number of blues styles either as a self-financed venture (unlikely) or on the invitation of a record company (probably Elektra) which later did not feel sufficiently enthused to issue anything. JF was it appears allowed to use some studio time to demo five compositions, including two with Al Wilson, one of which, "Sail Away Ladies", is surely the masterpiece which was issued on Volume 4 and another, "Delta Serenade", may have been included on Fonotone's exasperating "Early Sessions" album.

§ DDD 26

Takoma recorded this live set. Do the tapes still exist?

I Woke up one Morning in May
Candidate for the horrendous VOT track retitled "Je ne me suis reveillais pas en Mai", or maybe that comes from the next (studio!) session. It's an AAFM selection, sung there by Didier Herbert, whose version is wistful, even poignant. But Fahey extracts stronger emotions from the song.

Variations on Eck Robertson
The AAFM was very much in Fahey's mind in this period. It includes "Brilliancy Medley" by Eck Robertson & Family, the latter part of which medley is "Bill Cheatum", which itself appeared on VOT. These "Variations" will be along the lines of those on the Coo Coo and John Henry (both AAFM songs) and we regret they never reappeared in JF's work.

Le Vieux Soulard et sa Femme
Another AAFM Cajun song.

DDD sessionography ends.


Whilst the material released on Fonotone's "The Early Sessions" appears to be from the Transfiguration sessions already noted, for the sake of completeness, and because at this time we frankly don't know, a description of this material follows. The italicised songs are not titles but descriptions.

Theme from Russell Blaine Cooper
Variations on the Coo Coo
Theme from Russell Blaine Cooper/101 is a Hard Road to Travel
Old Paint/Appalachian Melody
The Last Steam Engine Train
The New Mind Reader Blues
• Several of the above are still the subjects of contention, which I guess will remain unresolved pending further information.


A Raga Called Pat
This circulates without the sound effects
Bill Bailey
At one time thought to be on the oddball Finnish EP (see elsewhere) and circulated as such between collectors. This was discovered not to be the case when diligent researchers unearthed the said Finnish EP itself. "Bill Bailey"'s origin is therefore unknown.
• I personally suspect this is a hoax and not by Fahey at all. Could it be from 'Ragtime' Ralph?

Revelation on the Banks of the Pawtuxent.
Takoma Studios, Berkeley, April 8, 1966
Lo the Rose Ever Blooms
Jim Lee Blues
The Revolt of the Dyke Brigade
The Portland Cement Factory at Monolith California
In the Garden Television Rag
A Rag

CONTEMPORARY GUITAR by Various Artists (Takoma 1006)

The Fahey Sampler
A long piece which contains the second part of "When the Springtime Comes Again" (which was en route to "Mark 1:15" (1971) and again in "When the Fire and the Rose are One" (1973). Also includes a phrase from "The Transcendental Waterfall", along with much vintage Fahey, and has never been reissued.
JF 1969: "Denson's idea was to call the record a sampler of contemporary guitarists. So I put together parts from some of my other works either previously recorded or not. Now I usually play this piece as my first song in a public performance."


A Raga Called Pat
Night Train to Valhalla

All previously unreleased versions

Issued on Savel records, and described on the label as a Takoma/Etenpain production, this EP is one of the most enigmatic and possibly the most exotic of releases in the canon. As far as we know it was unreleased in America or the UK, and import copies were considered to be fairly scarce even in 1966. We know why Tasmania, but John, why Finland?
• 'Night Train to Valhalla' is recorded (to these ears) without picks, and so may be pre-1964.

by Tony Thomas, 18 & 19 December 1966

JF plays backup on the following tunes:

The Carroll County Blues
Back Up and Push
Sitting on Top of the World
    JF on slide
The Little River Stomp
Old Joe Clark

The second guitar on these selections is by Rod Thomas, a close relative of Tony. Released by takoma in 67 and Produced by Denson and Fahey. Recorded in Hugo, Oklahoma by Fahey & Hansen.
Hansen remembers in RR: "In December 1966 John and I drove his '56 Chevy to Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas to record several old-time musicians…as a project for UCLA". So that will be where the VOT fiddle tunes also come from (see VOT notes).
Sessions 1967 - 1973