Elsewhere: Bill Fay’s New Record, Faith, & the War Machine

June 1, 2015

Bill Fay
…When musicians have unshakeable faith, it can give their work an unparalleled color and vibrancy. You can lean against it and it will hold you up. Think of the Staple Singers and how real their message feels, how much you believe it, even if only for the three minutes one of their songs lasts. Think of Alice Coltrane’s sublime devotional recordings at the Shanti Anantam Ashram, of the way Buddhism has deepened Leonard Cohen’s insight, of the moral vision Kendrick Lamar’s Christianity brings to his work, of the aching spiritual yearning of early Bob Marley. Even John Lennon’s atheist proselytizing has something like that effect — you feel like he believed in something intensely, and that belief was like a kind of devotion, and that devotion was more important to him, as a musician, than making money or getting laid or impressing you. And because of that you trusted him not to lie to you, and then the music became something more than entertainment — it became something that could help and even heal. That’s what Bill Fay has. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to think of a contemporary musician who has more of it than he does.

A new piece, about Bill Fay’s Who Is The Sender, up on The Talkhouse today.

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2 Responses to “Elsewhere: Bill Fay’s New Record, Faith, & the War Machine”

  1. Megan

    Really beautiful essay on Bill Fay’s music and the nature of things. Similarly, I had a journey that led me away from my magical spirit, into spiritual purgatory, and then thank goodness i fell flat on my face and had to open myself to grace to get back on my feet. I looked up Bill Fay’s music, of course, and listened to “Time of the Last Persecution” and “Who is the Sender?” – you’re so right. Both from different places of Higher Self understanding, but both so real and honest. In Martha Beck’s book “Finding Your Way in a Wild New World” she talks about when “wayfinders” meet other “wayfinders” – beings that are on the same spiritual life path – and I have to say Bill Fay, he seems to be one of those wayfinders, and brilliant light to keep sharing his energy no matter what the music trends choose to keep or delete – and a being that highlights that magic is still at hand! Thanks for writing this essay, Will, and opening us up to the experience of Bill Fay’s music.

  2. Corin

    Great writing on an amazing and slightly overlooked album. I actually think this album is deeper “Life Is People” in some ways. I had a stroke in January and spent a week in the hospital trying to contemplate my life as a professional musician whose fingers no longer worked on the left side. I listened to Bowie’s Black Star and this Bill Fay album about a hundred times each that week. I eventually got my fingers back, but I’ll be forever grateful to those two albums for being the soundtrack to the worst week of my life.

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