REQUIA and other compositions for guitar solo

JF in 1968: “Requia stinks. I was drunk during the recording sessions and they put the splices in the wrong places. Don’t buy it. It’s bad news.”
The IFC demur. Fahey fans will be used to Fahey constantly badmouthing his own achievements. Most Fahey fans rate side one of this album near the summit of his achievement: ecstatic, sublime, measured, melancholy, crisp, perfect – until Molly hoves into view, in fact. So the moral, as D H Lawrence stated, is “never trust the artist, trust the tale.”
Requiem for Mississippi John Hurt
JF: Although it was not John (wrong sex anyway) who through a gentle voice and pleasant demeanor (yet he had this about him too) served as my primary impetus to play the guitar [Fahey is on about Pat Sullivan here], it was nevertheless he, and others who played like him - but mainly he who provided me with my first technical model (emotional model to some extent also) for playing the guitar. He was the first I heard who played in the three-finger, non-choking, “picking” style, and he was one of the best. He was in his quiet way, a very great man, and I deeply mourn our loss of him. So, I wrote this requiem for him, about him, but I play it the way Charley Patton would have played it, had he ever thought of such a thing, which of course he never would have.
The tuning is open C, and the central theme is Patton’s rather unusual variant of Jesus is a Dying-Bed-Maker – unusual because the tune has an autological flatted fifth in it, played against the tonic chord which never changes. This makes the mode Lydian. Most unusual, but that’s the way Patton sang it on Paramount 12986.
When the Catfish is in Bloom
Jimmie Rodgers, the Singing Brakeman, another American hero, recorded a song with the title When the Cactus is in Bloom. One of his lesser efforts. As so often, Fahey steals and adapts the title only.
Requiem for Molly Parts 1-4
Barry Hansen in the liner notes to the Return of the Repressed: Speaking of Molly, I went to a party once with Molly and John. My musical judgment having been altered by gin and juice, I commandeered the living room piano for an unsteady rendition of My Blue Heaven. I thought nothing more of it until some time later when I got a call from John. “Barry,” he said, “I’m recording a new album and I want you to come to the studio, drink exactly the same amount of booze as you did at that party, and play My Blue Heaven. There’s a mercifully brief snippet of Heaven on John’s twenty-minute Requiem for Molly.
Parts 1-3 contain bits of Sun Gonna Shine In My Back Door Some Day Blues, and an old phonograph record – Circle Round the Moon by Charley Patton. [see note below]. Part 4’s melody is California Dreamin’, of all things, played really straight – a recent Top 40 hit for the Mamas and the Papas, who never returned the compliment. They could have managed a vocal version of Portland Cement Factory, maybe.
Other samplings come from a recording of Charles Ives’ 4th Symphony, 2nd Movement, Allegretto. The approximate times are: Requiem for Molly Part 1: 0:48 / 1:28 / 1:50 / 2:48 Requiem for Molly part 2: 4:44. The brass band snippet -- sampled twice in Parts 1 & 2 -- is At A Georgia Camp Meeting. The brief snippet of a hymn, played by a string quartet, is probably Watchman, Tell Us of the Night. [MK]

Note on Circle Round the Moon by Charley Patton.

Gayle Dean Wardlow says in the very remarkable notes to Revenant’s Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues notes:
“Nick Perls found that disc in 1965 in Arkansas, and it was the first copy found. However, when he found it, there was paper embedded in the Circle Round the Moon side. But at least that is playable. You can’t say that about the only other copy of that record found since then, by Frank Mare. That second copy has a big old half-bite out of it, but at least the label is intact. Pete Whelan has the Mare copy. Don Kent calls it the ‘jinxed record’ because it showed up as two copies, and they’re both damaged or broken.”
Contrast this with JF writing in his monograph on Patton:
“Since this study was written one of the missing Paramounts has been discovered (by John Fahey himself): Circle Round the Moon & Devil Sent the Rain Blues.”
As usual, nothing is simple ...
Fight On Christians, Fight On
Fahey’s source for this is Christians, Fight On, Your Time Ain’t Long (1927) by Sam Butler, aka Bo Weavil Jackson.