One Christmas my mom gave me a copy of “The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death” by John Fahey. It wasn’t a random gift. I had asked for it, having been a Fahey fan for a few years at that point. The record completely blew my mind.
It’s impossible to explain, but I’ve met people from time to time who understand this. John Fahey says so much without words. His style is pretty simple, and he does not display the flash and stunning skill of players like Leo Kottke and the many others who followed in his footsteps. He doesn’t need to, though. Like I said, he says so much, all without words.
This song is my favorite from that album. The title once inspired me to consider a trip I never took. It’s named for a pair of towns near Berkeley, CA, an area where Fahey lived for a number of years. I thought about taking a bus tour of the U.S. with some of my stops specifically chosen for the places John Fahey had lived and died. After visiting one such place, I knew that would be a waste. His spirit is not in those places. It’s in his music.