John Fahey’s first three records were strongly traditional in orientation, though his strong feeling for drama and original arranging touch were always in evidence. But The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party was a radical departure in many ways. It is certainly a product of its time, the mid-Sixties, featuring collaborations with sitar, flute, and church organ. One track even utilizes tapes of Fahey’s guitar played backwards. In some ways these experiments point to the efforts of contemporary fingerpickers to combine their efforts with those of musicians from other cultures. Even more directly influential on the generation of guitarists who would look to Fahey for inspiration are two rambling solo pieces, the title track and the aptly-titled "Guitar Excursions into the Unknown." Fahey fanatics have long considered The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party one of the most challenging records.