John Fahey – Dance of Death (1965)

The first time I heard John Fahey’s music it was on CHUM FM back in 1969 at the same time I was discovering Leo Kottke and Bert Jansch. The big album they played off of was The Dance of Death & Other Plantation Favorites, released in 1965. Although not part of the counterculture scene, Fahey was embraced by the hippie movement, at least the more illuminated members of it who heard his music on underground radio. But it was the soundtrack from the film Zabriskie Point (1970), directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, that would forever immortalize Fahey’s song “Dance Of Death” along with music by Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, The Youngbloods, The Kaleidoscope, and others. Zabriskie Point, along with other films of the period with progressive musical soundtracks such as More (1969) and La Vallée (1972), would become cult classics, getting much broadcast time on all-night Canadian television in the 70’s and premium cable stations in the late 70’s and 80’s. This would continue to promote the music on the films well into the 1980s and early 1990s. It was on an all-night University of Buffalo FM station in 1985 that I would become reacquainted with Fahey’s “Dance Of Death,” recording it to my cassette deck, because of the DJ’s love of the soundtrack of Zabriskie Point. I still have that cassette tape over 30 years later.

This version is the complete one (7 minutes and 39 seconds) from The Dance of Death & Other Plantation Favorites, the film score version being only the first 2 minutes and 43 seconds. This is an art dance interpretation I have created … which seems appropriate for this type of acoustic music.

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