Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Bluesday Album: The Legend of Blind Joe Death
Wow, John Fahey's The Legend of Blind Joe Death. What can be said. This is the album that the weekly Bluesday update was made for and is something I've been building up to since we started. I only hope I can do this album half the justice and service it's done me over the years because I'm not sure if I have the words for it. A friend passed a couple of these tracks to me via AIM over 6 years ago and I can't think of a situation Joe Death hasn't made better since. Hookup, breakup, bus ride, plane ride, train ride, homework, papers, finals, the best parts of life and worst of everything else; John Fahey and his fictional mentor/master "Joe Death" have been with me through it all.
The stats: 1959, John Fahey self-releases a limited, 100 run, pressing of his debut semi-concept album "Blind Joe Death." It's a '78 of solo steel string acoustic fingerpicking and nothing else. It makes no buzz in record stores and is contrary to contemporary pop music in a country that is just making the move from the roots of R&B to Rock and Roll. It's not marketed, not popular and doesn't make a blip on anything resembling charts.
Somehow "Blind Joe Death" picks up buzz. Fahey rereleases the album with bonus tracks and nearly a decade later in 1967 the little record that could makes it's way into the second Rolling Stone Record Guide. Flash forward to April 6th of last year and the original "indie" album is added to the United States Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as a "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" piece of work. The American Dream.
Not much more to be said. Told in 6 strings and ten fingers, there are ups, there are downs and almost unbelievably there's a narrative. Follow John Fahey as he moves from the slow, deliberate picks and bends of the opener, "On Doing Evil Deeds Blues" to tapping your toes along to the jaunty beat of "Poor Boy Long Way From Home." It's smoother than gravy dipped in melted butter. Blind Joe Death" made a mark that it never should have and there's nothing better for a Blue Tuesday.
Please, please, please take a break and stream what I could find of the album on grooveshark. Better yet, snag a copy from a friend or buy one where ever you can find it. "Blind Joe Death" will blow you away if you give it a chance. Give it a chance.