Bill Fay has always sung about attempting to understand the most universal questions: those of nature, spirituality, humanity. His songs are calming hymns for chaotic times, with vocal fans of Fay’s including the likes of Jeff Tweedy, Nick Cave and Adam Granduciel (The War on Drugs), among others. Now, Dead Oceans presents a celebration of Fay’s work with a collection of newer voices interpreting his timeless tracks, which are released as a special series of 7” records, alongside the reissue of his compilation album Still Some Light.
Originally put out in 2010 by David Tibet (Current 93) and Mark Logan, Still Some Light was released as a double CD, made up of 70’s album demos (Disc One) and 2009 home recordings (Disc Two) and this year, for the first time, this collection of recordings will be pressed to vinyl and released digitally. Many of the songs are intimate sketches which were eventually re-recorded for Fay’s landmark second album, Time of the Last Persecution. This double LP set includes heart wrenching versions of some of his timeless works, such as “I Hear You Calling” and “Pictures of Adolf Again”, and features equally powerful songs like “Arnold is a Simple Man” and “Love is the Tune,” which only appear in this collection.
Still Some Light is also presented alongside contemporary re-imaginings of four Bill Fay classics, making up a series of 7” releases. The first couple sees Steve Gunn perform ‘Dust Filled Room’ and a version of ‘I Hear You Calling’ by Kevin Morby, with more to be announced soon.
David Tibet, who released the original CD version of Still Some Light on his and Mark Logan’s Durtro Jnana label, wrote the following on Bill Fay and the new release of Still Some Light:
‘It must have been around 2000 that I first heard of Bill Fay. The artist and polymath Jim O’Rourke asked me if I had ever heard of Bill Fay. Like almost everyone in the world, apart from rare-vinyl obsessives, I said I hadn’t. Jim then extolled Fay’s virtues in a long and fascinating pæan to him and his creations. I was already hooked on Bill’s genius after listening to Jim, and that was without having heard anything whatsoever that Bill had created.
There was a See For Miles CD which included both of Bill’s incredibly rare albums from 1969 and 1970, as well as his sole single from 1967. I bought it, put it on, and in swept “The Garden Song”. From that very first song, I knew I had discovered the artist who, for me, was the greatest singer-songwriter I had ever heard.
When I become obsessed with an artist, whom I consider to be unjustly forgotten or unappreciated at the time I come across them, I have an overwhelming desire to track them down if they are still alive – so I had to find Bill Fay. But there were very few leads out there; the usual comment was based on the cover of Time of the Last Persecution—“I think he’s somewhere leading a religious group”; “he’s disappeared completely’; “he’s become a Christian hermit somewhere”. Well,possibly, but I didn’t feel these observations were very likely.
Through various synchronicities I did manage to find Bill. Bill and I have been very good friends now for almost a quarter of a century, so I hope Bill won’t mind my stating he is indeed a very private man. I spoke with Bill Stratton and Gary Smith, two of the people who had worked with him in The Bill Fay Group, and on the recording sessions which eventually became the Tomorrow Tomorrow and Tomorrow album, first released by our Durtro Jnana label as a CD in 2005.
At first my communications with Bill were made through Gary and Bill. Then finally, I got a somewhat hesitant phone call from Bill. He had hidden the number from which he had called. I told him how much I loved his work, and would love to release something—anything!—by him.
I was honoured and delighted to get to know Bill well. Bill is the kindest, most generous, most supportive, most gentle, and most talented of men. Anyone reading this, I am sure, already knows of the profundity, and simplicity, of his work, and the intense emotional truth and honesty it carries—all of which Bill himself also has in his soul. Still Some Light, which you now are offered, was the second release we did with Bill, a collection of treasures from the Bill Fay treasure-chest, full of delights, and reality, and as real as rainbows.
David Tibet, Hastings 18 October 2021