Have you ever found something that has been hidden in plain sight for years and you simply didn’t know it was there? And then kicked yourself saying, “How did I miss this?”
I did a few years ago. Anthony Phillips, one of the original members of Genesis. I found him in an oblique way. And I’m delighted I did.
Thirty-four years ago I was a young guitarist, taking lessons, playing in bands and dreaming of one day becoming a rock star. My guitar teacher turned me on to a guitarist I’d never heard of—Phil Keaggy. My teacher had a handful of albums by Phil. I fell in love with The Master and the Musician. Fingerstyle, jazz, classical, rock, medieval, Celtic. It has it all. Phil’s palette is multifaceted and displays many hues. It remains my favorite instrumental album.
What I did not know at the time was that there were two weighty things influencing Phil Keaggy’s creativity during the period in which the pieces on The Master and the Musician were composed.
First, Phil and his wife, Bernadette, had lost five children due to premature birth difficulties during the mid ‘70’s. One can’t even imagine their sorrow. Phil channeled the pain of these terrible losses into his music. (This, according to Bernadette in her book, Losing You Too Soon.) This was the difficult season in which the pieces that comprise The Master and the Musician had their genesis.
Second, Phil had been listening to Anthony Phillips’ brilliant album The Geese and the Ghost during this period. A friend turned him on to it. Phil unquestionably has his own voice and creativity—he’s recorded over fifty albums now—but you can detect flavoring from his enjoyment of this fascinating recording.
The Geese and the Ghost is primarily instrumental. There are a few vocal pieces, all winsome, featuring Phil Collins among others. The album has a certain otherworldly, at times medieval, vibe. Brilliant, cascading 12-string guitar work. Multiple overdubs. Oboes, recorders, mellotrons, synthesizers, strings. And lots of guitars. It will take you to another place.
We all tend to be composites of our influences and that is a beautiful thing. Who has influenced you, artistically or otherwise?
Buy The Geese and the Ghost as well as The Master and the Musician, both available through the iTunes Store. See what you’ve been missing.