The Low-Down, No-Good, Middlin’ Blues

Meet Robert Johnson, the “Grandfather of Rock n’ Roll” and my current musical obsession.  He’s from the Mississippi Delta.  My people are from the Mississippi Delta.   And that’s about all we have in common, because whereas I’m a Jack of all trades and a master of none, Robert Johnson was and remains one of the best at what he chose to do – playing the Blues.  The man made up his mind to break loose of the sharecropping life he was born into and make a go at musical infamy.  In the process he helped create the Blues and pave the way for Rock n’ Roll.  How’d he do it?  He sold his soul to the Devil, of course.

Well, maybe he did, and maybe he didn’t.  Legend has it that Robert Johnson traded his everlasting soul to the Devil in exchange for musical greatness at either the intersection of Highways 8 and 1 in Rosedale, Mississippi or at the Highway 49/Highway 61 crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  Silly, I know, and most people think it’s just a rumor started by his mentor, Son House, who said Robert Johnson must’ve sold his soul to the devil in order to play the way he did.  But how does a man whose talent is regarded as mediocre at best disappear into the Delta for a year, emerge to help create the Blues and record 29 legendary songs in less than a year, and die soon thereafter?  I don’t know, and apparently a lot of other people were scratching their heads at that one, too.  Robert Johnson never really put those rumors to rest, either, often referring to the devil or the crossroads in his songs.  Take a listen with me, why don’t you?

 Amazing, regardless of how he got there.

And one more thing, folks.  When Robert Johnson flirted with the wrong woman and unwittingly accepted a fatal strychnine/whiskey cocktail from her husband, he was 27.  That’s right, Robert Jonhson was just the second inductee into the 27 Club.

So yeah, I wish I had helped create something as incredible as the Blues.   And I wish I excelled at something.  But if heading to a deserted Delta crossroads at midnight to bargain with the Devil and his crazed hound dog is the price of admission, I’ll pass.

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3 Responses to “The Low-Down, No-Good, Middlin’ Blues”

  1. Skinny Bone Jones Says:

    God, I love the blues.

  2. Eric Says:

    RoJo and the blues!
    What an amazing musician and incredible story.

    I’m finishing up an illustrated book with artist Josh Hunter about Robert Johnson and the rest of The 27s. Check it out at http://www.the27s.com

    Thanks for letting me post. Have a great week now.

  3. myrtlebeachbum Says:

    @Eric: My little brother is obsessed with The 27s. Publish by Christmas, please.

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