The Story, basically… In 1969, John Fahey was asked (and paid) to compose music for director Michelangelo Antonioni’s film, Zabriskie Point. Fahey flew to Rome, tinkered around, recorded some solo guitar, and had some additional recording sessions with various musicians. Fahey got into a fight with Antonioni during a dinner, and his recordings were scrapped in favor of other artists – although an edited version of an old Fahey song was included in the film. History aside, here we have John Fahey playing some nice solo guitar for 50 minutes. It’s good stuff, enjoy. (by badpainter)
Zabriekie Notes, from John Fahey:
(from John Fahey’s book “How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life”)
“If I had to do it all over again, I honestly don’t know whether I would do it or not. I did make a lot of money. But it wasn’t any fun. I’ll tell you that.”
“I played and improvised and worked out on the guitar for many, many hours. I had the guitar fixed so the low A string was where the B string should be and vice versa, and I put it at a random tuning. It was harmonicallly in tune but was scordatura, that is, detuned. That way I would get a unique sound. And furthermore nobody would ever be able to figure out how I did it. And I played and played and played until I came up with a reasonable facsimile of some desert young-death-love music”
“I had a closed session of just me and an engineer. And with my detuned guitar, I made three takes of Antonioni gangbang, young-love obscenity music out on the desert…”
“When I first recorded with just my guitar, the third take was just what I think the Big Ant (Antionioni) wants. I have listened to it again and again and it’s really good… I had a copy of the third take made, see, and I’ve heard it time and time again and it’s great.”
The Antonioni Fiasco, by Byron Coley (Spin magazine, 1994):
“To assemble the soundtrack, Michaelangelo Antonioni (the director) reportedly asked various American hippies what music they liked.
‘Zabrieski Point’ features one particularly long sequence with couples making love in the desert, and this is the one Antonioni wanted Fahey to score.”
Fahey, 1994: “Antonioni says ‘What I want you to do is to compose some music that will go along with the porno scene.’ I kept saying, ‘Yes, sir.’ Then he starts this, ‘Now John, this is young love. Young love.’ I mean, that’s young love? All these bodies? ‘Young love. But John, it’s in the desert, where there’s death. But it’s young love.’
He kept going ‘young love/death’ faster and faster. I was sure I was talking to a madman.
So I experimented. I had instrumentalists come in and I told them just to play whatever they felt like. They had to pretend to understand what I was talking about, especially if Antonioni came in the room.
I came up with some sections of music that sounded more like death than young love. I played it for Michaelangelo and he thought it was great.”
Alas, it seems that after the music was all agreed, there was a celebratory dinner, and as the wine flowed the discussion turned heated. Antonioni began explaining to Fahey how he hated the USA. Fahey made him govern his Marxist malevolence.
Antonioni took offence and couldn’t understand why Fahey wasn’t part of the revolution which was engulfing the nation at the time. They had reached the point of no return.
Fahey left, and Antonioni, strangely, ditched the composed music and just used the first 3 minutes of “Dance of Death” instead.
What happened to the stuff with the instrumentalists playing whatever they felt like, and who were they anyway? What we have left to us is just Fahey alone, as usual, but sounding very subdued.
Elsewhere, Fahey has said: “This stupid film is in the book ‘The 100 Worst Ever Films Made’. It deserves inclusion.”
Thanks to badpainter for sharing the tracks at Dime.
John Fahey (guitar)
01. Track 1 10.49
02. Track 2 18.39
03. Track 3 17.18
Music composed by John Fahey