The History and Mystery of Bill Frisell’s Disarming (Disfarmer) Tune

I’ve been fascinated with guitarist Bill Frisell’s music for nearly as long as I’ve been fascinated with music. Or fascinated, period.

There are many points of entry into Frisell’s big, rich, bold, strange and varied recorded catalog, both under his own name and as collaborator and sideman with a mind-boggling range of musicians. Meaning your life gets enriched and your ears expanded if you dive in anywhere in his discography and work in any direction.

Two of Frisell’s albums—History, Mystery and Disfarmer (from 2008 and 2009, respectively; both on Nonesuch)—keep calling me back. Not because they’re his best work (though they’re terrific) and not because they represent something in particular (although Disfarmer is meant to convey something about the work of photographer Mike Disfarmer).

But simply because I find them mesmerizing in a meditative way, and of one piece.

When I heard the “single” “God’s Wing’d Horse” (above) from Frisell’s wonderful new Blue Note release, Harmony, I knew I’d heard it before.

Indeed I had. As Cem Kurosman of Blue Note explained: The melody of “God’s Wing’d Horse,” finds its roots in Frisell’s Disfarmer project, and its lyrics come from Julie Miller, the wife and key musical partner of roots great Buddy Miller.

Frisell explains that and more here.

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