Phil Keaggy: In His Own Words

In December of 1995, Phil offered to spend some time on the phone to "fill in the gaps" for his Internet fans who had questions about his life and music. In the week of time between scheduling the interview and the interview itself, many Keaggy fans on the Christian music and acoustic guitar newsgroups contributed questions. When I called Phil on December 6, I had seven pages of questions! Phil was generous with his time far beyond any reasonable expectation, and answered questions for nearly two and a half hours. The text you'll find below (follow the link at the bottom of this page) is a record of our conversation.

A few weeks after the interview, Ron Kneusel started operating the keaggy-l email discussion group. The group's many subscribers expressed keen interest in seeing the entire conversation in print, in Phil's own words, rather than having it condensed into one or more short articles. Guided by their desires, the text is a close transcription of our conversation. It is lengthy, but a detailed Table of Contents provides topical links to dozens of points in the interview. I hope this makes the interview accessible and enjoyable for devoted long-time Keaggy fans and for newer or more casual fans alike. To this end, I've been especially careful to include links to all substantive mentions of Phil's songs and albums, so you can quickly jump to any mention of your favorite Keaggy compositions.

Although I've been a devoted fan of Phil's music since a fraternity brother first played Emerging for me in 1980, and although I've seen Phil perform live many times, I had never spoken at length with him before. As you might imagine, I was quite flustered at first! But Phil's soft-spoken good nature and sly wit quickly had me feeling very comfortable. Thus, what began as an interview between Phil and an excited long-time fan soon took on more of the character of a conversation between two new friends. Please enjoy the interview with that in mind---that you are not reading the product of a professional journalist's interview, but are instead "eavesdropping" on an afternoon's conversation. I've edited out some parts of our conversation that would appear awkward in print (mostly the many dozen "cool!", "right!", and "yeah!" exclamations that I constantly interrupted Phil with), but I've left in quite a few colloquialisms to preserve the sense of an informal conversation. I hope you don't find these to be distracting. Also, I hope you will find the various bits of evidence of my over-excitement in finally being able to speak to a man whom I've admired for well over a decade to be humorous rather than exasperating!

I'd like to thank many people who contributed to making this interview happen. Luthier Jim Olson, who has built guitars for Phil and for many other well-known acoustic guitarists, is responsible for getting Phil and me in touch with each other, proving that the magic he performs in his workshop is not the only magic he's capable of! Many newsgroup readers contributed excellent questions; unfortunately, not even two and a half hours was enough time to get to them all, so many will have to await some other occassion. Mike Allinger provided crucial graphical assistance on short notice that transformed the appearance of the interview and other Way Back Home resources. Curtis Alley, Dave and Robin Eastburn, and James Messick provided photographs (and Phil himself graciously gave permission to reproduce many photos from his 1990 Phil Keaggy Songbook). The subscribers of keaggy-l were encouraging and patient through various events that delayed publication. Phil offers some acknowlegements of his own at the end of the interview.

Finally, we must all thank Phil for so generously giving of himself in this interview. He not only gave up an entire afternoon for the interview itself; he also spent considerable time editing the transcript in an effort to make the text a positive and encouraging testimony to how God has worked in and through his life. Anything that you perceive as negative in the text is entirely the fault of the interviewer, I assure you!

If in reading this interview you find even a fraction of the delight and encouragement I found in talking with Phil, I will consider the work of bringing it to the web to have been more than worthwhile. God's peace to you!

---Tom Loredo, March 1996

Technical and Legal Stuff

The interview is a single, long file, with over a dozen included images. It may thus take a while to download (there is about 900kB of information); but once you have it, you can jump around at will without waiting for further downloads, or save or print the whole thing. If your connection is slow, you may want to disable image loading before grabbing the text; by itself, the text occupies about 120kB.

Phil's text is in plain type; the interviewer's is in bold (presuming your web browser is capable of it). Please forgive the strong contrast between the fonts; I would have prefered to use italics but browser limitations (especially in regard to citations) precluded this.

If you'd like to print a copy of the interview to read at your leisure, you can of course use your browser's printing capability. But note that if you save and print the file as plain text, most browsers will not render the bold or italic type any differently than the plain type. If you'd like a plain text version of the interview with the text modified to distinguish the interviewer's text from Phil's, download this gzipped plain text file. If your browser is presently unable to decode gzipped files, you'll find information about free gzip software for all major platforms near the end of theMusic page. This file is only 38kB in size, and is the quickest-downloading form of the interview.

Photo Credits:

All other photos reprinted with permission from Phil Keaggy. Printed versions appeared in the 1990 Phil Keaggy Songbook. Some of the photos are icons of larger versions. Check back for a soon-to-appear Photo Gallery page where the larger versions will appear in rotation.

This work is Copyrighted. © Copyright 1996 by Phil Keaggy and Tom Loredo.

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