Muschamp Rd

The Legendary Blind Joe Death

May 22nd, 2012
Blind Joe Death

Blind Joe Death was the name John Fahey recorded his earliest recordings under. Nowadays many musicians use pseudonyms, but in 1959 pretending you were something or someone else while self releasing an album was near unheard of. In addition to self releasing his first album in an extremely limited pressing of only 100 copies. John didn’t go about selling his music the way the rest of record industry did.

Legend has it John went around to local thrift shops and slipped his new record of folk and blues music in with old used records of real folk and blues musicians. He wanted people to wonder who was Blind Joe Death and how many records did he record? Now any fool can adopt a pseudonym like Fussbett Sanitario, and they can be unmasked using Google. But in the early 60s when country and blues and folk were merging with popular rock music to give the world folk rock or country rock and bands like Canned Heat.

Discovering New Music

Before, people had to listen to the radio, or read indie magazines, or haunt record stores to find new, and new to you music. I sometimes think the Internet has taken some of the wonder out of the world, though it is nice that you can just search YouTube to find a clip of the legendary Blind Joe Death, aka John Fahey. His guitar playing definitely influenced mine subconsciously.

I miss flipping through collections

When I was a kid I had a record player, that record player is still in my mom’s basement and I still have those old 45s my babysitter gave me, ala Almost Famous. I also used to haunt comic book shops and used book stores, going through the racks was a rite of passage for a collector, now you just go to Google or Amazon when you want to find some obscure title.

The Rise of Algorithms

I alluded to it above but in 2024 my music listening has become more influenced by algorithms. I eventually paid for Apple Music and sometimes I search for specific songs or artists but sometimes I listen to music the algorithm recommended. I have found some interesting new and new to me music, but Apple has years and years of my listening preferences thanks to using iTunes for over twenty years.

YouTube is another place where the algorithm recommends music to me. Again I’ve been using YouTube for probably close to twenty years. I’m not always logged in, but that doesn’t even matter, they can follow you online using cookies and even profiling what devices you used last time you logged in. It is harder and hard to be anonymous online.

I still support the local record store, though I didn’t line up at 6 AM on Record Store Day. I don’t buy as many albums as I used to, but I still buy songs online, plus the occasional LP and concert ticket. Editing all my old blog posts reminded me of how often I used to go to concerts. If you have thoughts on music or algorithms you can leave a comment below.

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