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November 23 1936

By Patrick Van Roy On November 23rd, 2020

In a makeshift studio, Robert Johnson lays down tracks that will influence music for generations. These and later recordings will be considered so powerful that a legend arises purporting that Johnson sold his soul to the devil to achieve success. The blues legend will nevertheless die in poverty at just 27.

4 Responses to “November 23 1936”

  1. I’ve been listening to this music since the first RJ album showed up in our house when I was 12 or so.

    This one is still probably my favourite

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4up4VP8zjyc

    Robert Johnson was incredibly talented, innovative and way, way ahead of his time.

    It has also always intrigued me how at some times, certain years, people and cultures that have absolutely no connection to each other start coming up with very similar things. In this case, how an illiterate black youth in Mississippi during segregation and an over-civilised philology academic in Trinity College or in Paris can face the same issues.

    I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees
    Asked the Lord above for mercy, “Save me if you please.”
    Standing at the crossroad, the rising sun is going down
    For standing at the crossroads, I believe I’m sinking down.

    That could have been written by Beckett or Camus.

    Also predates Dylan’s “From a Buick 6”, if anyone knows it. But generally Johnson’s music predates 100 other things and there are few people who have formed our culture as much as this brilliant and unfortunate lad.

  2. Extremely interesting.

    Regret to say that I didn’t know about this guy, but I’m starting to know him now.

  3. Johnson is considered the keystone of the Delta Blues which almost all rock has it’s roots from.

    The crossroads lyric is also tied to the Johnson Legend. He made a deal with a crossroad demon for his talent.

    He was poisoned by a jealous husband who thought he was seducing his wife from the stage.

    It took him 3 days to die.

  4. I watched this many years ago, loosely based on the Johnson story:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossroads_(1986_film)

    It’s entertaining enough.