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Cross Road Blues

Robert Johnson

I have no idea when I starting listening to the Blues.

Almost certainly it was via that British Blues maestro John Mayall. At school we naturally listened to each others albums. I recall listening to a John Mayall album from Michael Talve’s collection and hearing The Death of J.B. Lenoir (from Mayall’s 1967 Crusade album).

From there it was a natural step back to the “real folk blues” – Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, etc.

In saying that, I think the first blues album I bought was by Bessie SmithThe World’s Greatest Blues Singer (CBS). I bought this through the Australian Record Club – sadly it was a victim of the gradual decimation of my collection through theft, house movement, or desperation sale.

Around the same time I heard the Robert Johnson album, King of the Delta Blues Singers.  And from that album comes the starting point of my little musical adventure.

Why “Cross Road Blues”?

Robert Johnson standing at the crossroads – is there a more pivotal moment in modern musical history?

Or one more shrouded in mystery and conjecture.

Was it Robert Johnson … or Tommy. I don’t think there is any doubt that Tommy’s story of “doing a deal” preceded the allegations about Robert’s transaction. And Tommy apparently bragged about, while Robert never admitted it.

And did the transaction take place at the junction of Routes 61 and 49 at Clarksdale, MIssissippi … or was it at Rosedale (about 35 miles from Clarksdale) where Highways 1 & 8 intersect?

What is not conjecture is the enormous influence Robert Johnson wields over the development of the modern western music … despite his very brief life, and even briefer period of creativity.

My starting point – Cross Road Blues – is a choice not really chosen but forced upon me by the far-reaching tendrills of Robert Johnson and because it carry’s the name of that legendary exchange and the idea for this blog.

Other Stuff You Might Enjoy.

The Search For Robert Johnson – Documentary (1 hr 12 mins) from John Hammond Jr.

Can’t You Hear The Wind Howl – The Life and Music of Robert Johnson (1 hr 15 mins) film by Peter Meyer.

Stop Breakin’ Down (25mins) film by Glenn Marzano. This link takes you to The Blues Blogger, where you’ll find a lot of interesting stuff.  You can see this film on You Tube as well.

The Tommy Johnson “Crossroads” Scene from Oh Brother Where Art Thou (2m 25s)

Where to next?

Standing at this crossroad, the choices for my next port of call are:

To the North:  They’re Red Hot by Peter Green Splinter Group.
To the South:  The Super-Natural by John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers.
To the East:     The Promised Land by Bruce Springsteen.
To the West:    Love In Vain by The Rolling Stones.

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