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How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life Paperback – April 15, 2000


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$19.76 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Drag City; 3 edition (April 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0965618323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0965618328
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.8 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #354,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The truth, Winston Churchill once stated, must be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies. Guitarist John Fahey, whose folk-informed work has inspired musicians as dissimilar as George Winston and Jim O'Rourke, adheres to that principle throughout this conversationally voiced collection of ostensibly fictitious but semiautobiographical short stories. Fahey is no stranger to the written word: in the 1960s he published a volume on blues guitarist Charley Patton, and his albums have frequently included voluminous, fanciful liner notes. Fans looking for illumination of his guitar playing might be disappointed by this book: he spends more time spinning tall tales about a periodically horrific post-WWII suburban childhood and the many remarkable people he's met (from compassionate blues musician and fishing enthusiast Bukka White to pompous Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni, whom Fahey claims to have punched out) than he does discussing his musical methodology. But his writing flickers with the same black humor and ambivalent mysticism that imbues his music. --Bill Meyer

Review

“Fahey's writing flickers with the same black humor and ambivalent mysticism that imbues his music.”  —Bill Meyer, music critic, Chicago Reader

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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A great read for Fahey fans.
Brian V.
He was a sensitive soul with a a deep passion for music.
Marc Rosenthal
Unusual writing from an unusual mind and great talent.
John C. Nielson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Peter John Mueller on July 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
There's a lot in this book that could do a lot of us a lot of good, if only we'd listen. The person responsible for creating a stage for solo acoustic guitar is firing from both barrels here with something one shouldn't mix up with the word "fiction". This book doesn't have to be rated or promoted: it will find its own readership amongst the ones who've followed John's path all along and know how to deal with it. Funny and sad, frightening and enjoying, a gifted guitarist gives us a generous insight into what growing up in Takoma Park can mean. Warning: there are no guitar tabs in this volume! Ha!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Horse Snakes on July 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a dedicated fan of John Fahey's music, I couldn't wait to read his book. Well, I was not dissapointed. He writes a lot about his childhood, his professional life as a guitar player, his part in the rediscovering of bluesman Skip James, and other experiences he has had. While not entirely based on fact, I wouldn't call it fiction like the back of the book says. Anyways, this is a fascinating portrait of one of the great composers of our time, and I doubt that the reader could put this book down for very long. It's simply brilliant!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Calhoun on May 1, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
...so any debates about the possible "fictional" aspects of this remarkable book are really moot. I was there. Then. John lived about four blocks from us, he was six years older than me, and he was a major influence on me, not only musically but also philosophically. The fact that I turned down an offer of one of the 95 surviving copies of the initial (and only) pressing of the original "John Fahey/Blind Joe Death" LP and also refused to sell John my 78 RPM copy of Vernon Dalhart's "The Prisoner's Song" proves I was crazy enough, at least in hindsight, to have belonged right there, right then. Reading this book brought back summer nights across from the field where "April in the Orange" was largely played out in "real" time, and he and the other, older guys played poker, tormented the beat cop and John picked out ethereal, otherwordly melodies which floated through the window on the mimosa-scented summer air and would eventually become the backbone of his cannon of recorded work.

This book is absolutely essential for anyone with an interest in blues, bluegrass or really any form of American music or just America, as well as the workings of a genius mind in constant search of the Lost Chord. Or anyone who's ever been in love. With anything. An emotional roller coaster of seemingly insane vignettes (which are, I assure you, not really insane at all, just peculiar to the place and time where we all lived and loved and moved around in the midst of time) juxtaposed with horrifyingly lucid and stunningly loving moments - more like William Burroughs and Mark Twain speaking with one voice than anything remotely Vonnegut - and transformative in its power.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
The recently deceased guitar master takes you on a tour of his childhood and young adulthood... basically this book is about as highly recommended as they come for a fan of his music- it will provide musical, emotional and even philosophical insight (with several references to hegel, heidegger, and other great german philosophers) into his life. there are moments of fiction, but it doesnt overwhelm the autobiographical nature of the work. you really do get a feeling for the personalities of bukka white, skip james, roosevelt sykes, and antonioni, which is the real reason may of fahey's most loyal fans would want to read the book. some moments are harrowing, from tales of childhood abuse to stories of social alienation. other moments are endearing, there are stories of first friendships, loves, and comfort (mostly on the part of white and sykes). Fahey led a very interesting life, and this book has a good deal of serious instrospection. he's actually a pretty good writer, so i give it the highest recommendation. someone new to fahey or not interested in 20s blues figures be warned, a lot of it will be confusing, leading to reviews like the one up top by that poor bitter guy who completely missed the point.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
The recently deceased guitar master takes you on a tour of his childhood and young adulthood... basically this book is about as highly recommended as they come for a fan of his music- it will provide musical, emotional and even philosophical insight (with several references to hegel, heidegger, and other great german philosophers) into his life. there are moments of fiction, but it doesnt overwhelm the autobiographical nature of the work. you really do get a feeling for the personalities of bukka white, skip james, roosevelt sykes, and antonioni, which is the real reason may of fahey's most loyal fans would want to read the book. some moments are harrowing, from tales of childhood abuse to stories of social alienation. other moments are endearing, there are stories of first friendships, loves, and comfort (mostly on the part of white and sykes). Fahey led a very interesting life, and this book has a good deal of serious instrospection. he's actually a pretty good writer, so i give it the highest recommendation. someone new to fahey or not interested in 20s blues figures be warned, a lot of it will be confusing, leading to reviews like the one up top by that poor bitter guy who completely missed the point.
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