Tuesday, July 23, 2013

the voice of the turtle

John Fahey immersed himself in the folk and blues music that inspired him and experimented with other forms for the scratchy eclectic mythmaking of this mock autobiography.   'The Voice of the Turtle' was constructed over years using old blues recordings and new music manipulated to sound old.  The music draws in blues, country, cajun, and folk with experiments in raga and psychedelic noise.  The album credits John Fahey on guitar; L. Mayne Smith on banjo (on "Train"); Mark Levine on guitar (on "Train"); and Nancy McLean on flute; but also listed as contributing are:  Blind Joe Death, Hubert Thomas, Blind Thomas Curtis, Harmonica ED, Virgil Willis Johnston, Tibetan Buddhist Monks & Gamblin' Gamelan Gong.  

'The Voice of the Turtle'  has several subtitles:   "Being a Musical Hodograph & Chronologue of the Music of John Fahey, including his most recent composition, The Story of Dorothy Gooch."; "The Volk Roots & Hiart Leaves of John Fahey, Blind Joe Death, Hubert Thomas, Virgil Willis Johnston, L. Mayne Smith, Mark Levine."; and "The Fahey Picture Album: Genuine photographs of Blind Joe Death, Knott's Berry Farm Molly, The Adelphi Rolling Grist Mill, Etc."

According to the original liner notes:    "The recordings which comprise this record comprise a well defined yet non-directive channel of Mr. Fahey's roots and the progression of his music for the casual listener to be entertained thereby, the inquisitive listener thus may have his curiosity satisfied and the casual listener may, in the same manner, as it were be entertained. And that, the former is exactly the point of this record: A history, chronicle and documentary recording - all in one - of Mr. Fahey's musical creations, and of what is, to the scholar, or the inquisitor of more significance, Mr. Fahey's musical influences which led to his creations."  

Fahey would later reveal:   "Mainly it's a parental situation.  I was writing these things as an escape, as a possible way to make money. The sentiments expressed come out of a fucked up situation. I was creating for myself an imaginary, beautiful world and pretending that I lived there, but I didn't feel beautiful. I was mad but I wasn't aware of it. I was also very sad, afraid and lonely. By presenting this so-called beautiful facade I looked good to myself and my audience. This went on for years.  I always tried to put a peaceful element into the music, but it was false because I was not at peace. I didn't know what I was doing and felt pretty phony. I didn't understand any of this until I had psychoanalysis...Before psychoanalysis, I used to accidentally get so high or prescription drugs and booze that, sometimes, wouldn't show up for a show. Or I'd be there and not know it. For a while I thought I was going insane. People would tell me I did these crazy things, but I didn't' attribute it to the Quaaludes I was taking so that the memories of my father abusing me as a child wouldn't come back...When I was about four or five years old I saw what thought was a penis walking across the front lawn.  It was just a box turtle, but it kind of upset me...The obsession comes from the psychic meaning of turtles, reptiles and amphibians. In dreams they symbolise genitalia. That's why I went to a psychoanalyst because I had all these repressed memories."  

The album sleeve also quotes from Song of Solomon 2:11-12:  "For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land".  


"Bottleneck Blues" – 3:06
This is a lo-fi recording with hissing and pops, an old 78-rpm recording by Sylvester Weaver and Walter Beasley.

"Nine-Pound Hammer" – 1:59

'The Voice of the Turtle' 
full album:







Side one "Bottleneck Blues" – 3:06 Blind Joe Death & John Fahey "Bill Cheatum" – 1:56 Hubert Thomas & John Fahey "Lewisdale Blues" – 2:18 Nancy McClean & John Fahey "Bean Vine Blues" – 2:45 Blind Thomas Curtis, Blind Joe Death & John Fahey "A Raga Called Pat, Part III" – 9:04 Tibetan Buddhist Monks, John Fahey & Gamblin' Gamelan Gong

Side two "A Raga Called Pat, Part IV" – 4:28 Monks, Fahey & Gong "Train" – 1:47 L. Mayne Smith & John Fahey "Je Ne Me Suis Reveillais Matin Pas En May" – 2:22 Harmonica ED & John Fahey "The Story Of Dorothy Gooch, Part I" – 5:27 John Fahey "Nine-Pound Hammer" – 1:59 Blind Joe Death & John Fahey "Lonesome Valley" – 1:42 Virgil Willis Johnston & John Fahey

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