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#8675 - 05/14/08 06:44 PM Robert Johnson, sold his soul
blackdragon31560 Offline
pledge


Registered: 08/30/07
Posts: 74
Loc: Hell Paso, TX


well as a satanist and musician, Robert Johnson is such an interesting subject. All legends are based on some facts. he was truly a masterful musician. By no means am i saying he sold his soul. but what great angle to play, along with his great skills. There is so much mystery around, his birth, life, death, and his music.
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#8702 - 05/15/08 08:45 PM Re: Robert Johnson, sold his soul [Re: blackdragon31560]
Morgan Offline
Princess of Hell
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Registered: 08/29/07
Posts: 2956
Loc: New York City
I love his music. I bought his box set years ago.
I think that is one of the only known pictures of him.
Look at his hands, his fingers are fucking abnormally long....
From what I can remember, he played fine, disappeared, then came back around months(?) later and was amazing.

Morg
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#8705 - 05/15/08 10:38 PM Re: Robert Johnson, sold his soul [Re: blackdragon31560]
Bacchae Offline
Satan's White Trash Neighbor
member


Registered: 05/13/08
Posts: 438
Loc: los angeles
johnson was an astounding musician and deserving of the mythology that has grown around him long after his death. he was, however, not supernatural. he practiced, learned, and had influences just like every other guitar player. most of his material was cribbed from others, some tunes even note-for-note. his delivery, skill, and attitude were all his own though. he was, in fact, one of the LAST of what we today regard as the great delta bluesmen.
for anyone interested in johnson, skip james, charlie patton, son house, bukka white, leadbelly, etc... i heartily recommend "the history of the blues" by francis davis.

great video/song btw

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#8706 - 05/15/08 10:46 PM Re: Robert Johnson, sold his soul [Re: Morgan]
Bacchae Offline
Satan's White Trash Neighbor
member


Registered: 05/13/08
Posts: 438
Loc: los angeles
 Originally Posted By: Morgan

I think that is one of the only known pictures of him.
Look at his hands, his fingers are fucking abnormally long....


Morg


yeah. legend has it that he possessed a giant black anaconda too. he preferred married women, moving from town to town, playing in juke joints and stealing ladies, and one of the husbands most likely killed him.

theres actually 2 photos of him in existence, but in those days photos were hard to come by. very few of the early southern musicians (black or white) had photos of them unless they were recording for the big city record companies. in those photos they always looked creepy, posed, and uncomfortable. because they were.

and hi Morgan ;\)

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#43486 - 10/07/10 01:14 AM Re: Robert Johnson, sold his soul [Re: blackdragon31560]
Aklo Offline
member


Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 158
It's a legend though.

 Originally Posted By: cat yronwode
The crossroads ritual is currently best known in popular American culture through the recent acceptance of a spurious legend that the famous 1930s blues singer Robert Johnson claimed that he had learned how to play guitar by selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads, somewhere in Mississippi. In truth, the blues singer who publicly made this claim was Robert's rather less-well-known contemporary and friend Tommy Johnson, not related to Robert. Tommy Johnson is remembered for his classic recording of "Maggie Campbell Blues." LeDell Johnson, Tommy Johnson's brother, spoke with the blues scholar David Evans about Tommy's sudden guitar playing skill and Tommy's claims about it. His account of the ritual is typical of others collected throughout the South. Note that LeDell did not say that Tommy Johnson called the crossroads spirit "the devil" and he did not mention selling his soul.

"If you want to learn how to make songs yourself, you take your guitar and you go to where the road crosses that way, where a crossroads is. Get there, be sure to get there just a little 'fore 12 that night so you know you'll be there. You have your guitar and be playing a piece there by yourself...A big black man will walk up there and take your guitar and he'll tune it. And then he'll play a piece and hand it back to you. That's the way I learned to play anything I want."

from "Tommy Johnson" by David Evans (London: Studio Vista, 1971). [Thanks to Debbie Sexton (Ginger5904@aol.com) for sourcing this material.]

Robert Johnson, shown here, did record a song called "Crossroads," but it is about hitch-hiking, not magic. In other songs he made it clear that he was familiar with and practiced hoodoo: In "Hellhound on My Trail" he mentions Hot Foot Powder, in "Come On In My Kitchen" he refers to a woman's nation sack, and in "Little Queen of Spades" he describes how his lover uses a mojo bag to gain good luck in gambling. But hoodoo is an entire system of belief and the ritual whereby one learns skills at a crossroads is only one of thousands of practices that are part of the hoodoo tradition. Robert Johnson worked hoodoo and believed in it, but he himself apparently did not claim that he used the crossroads ritual to gain mastery of the guitar. This is not to say that he did not do so -- for many, many people have done it, and not only because they wanted to learn to play the guitar, but to become proficient on other musical instruments, to improve their skills as dancers, to become good at throwing dice, and to learn how to lay tricks (cast spells). However, in the interest of accuracy, i must repeat that Robert Johnson never claimed he worked the crossroads ritual. Tommy Johnson did, however.

As far as i have been able to determine it was a writer named Robert Palmer who bears the responsibility for transferring Tommy Johnson's crossroads story to Robert Johnson, probably because Robert Johnson was so much better known and Palmer thought it made a better story.

http://www.luckymojo.com/crossroads.html

There's a kickass story by Glen Singer called "Harold's Blues" in The Shub Niggurath Cycle from Chaosium, that basically reworks this legend with Nyarlathotep as The Black Man At The Crossroads.
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#43503 - 10/07/10 09:44 PM Re: Robert Johnson, sold his soul [Re: Aklo]
Oxus Offline
member


Registered: 04/15/10
Posts: 510
I played guitar with Honeyboy Edwards a few times at BB Kings in Times Square NYC a few years back, and we talked a lot backstage (John Hammond Jr. also being there).

For those who don't know, Honeyboy used to pal around with Robert Johnson, talking with Honeyboy was a highpoint in my life.

Johnson is for the most part a generation or two removed from the Charley Pattons and Son Houses. It was not that new to associate yourself with the devil if you were a delta bluesman (a shtick).

Every one of Johnson's tunes can be traced back to an earlier artist, they all learned basically the same techniques and approaches to certain tunings and keys, capo'd songs etc.

According to Honeyboy, Robert only used the devil thing as a promotion thing, as well as the cool voodoo lyrics.

I love Robert Johnson and everything he is about, he was an excellent musician and performer.

Robert Palmers's book "Deep Blues" is an excellent read that paints a great picture of the great Delta Bluesmen.

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#43504 - 10/07/10 09:49 PM Re: Robert Johnson, sold his soul [Re: Oxus]
Prometheus9 Offline
stranger


Registered: 09/09/09
Posts: 37
It was in part a play upon the mythology of Eshu, reinterpreted through Southern Christianity. Fun stuff and a great example of cultural adaptation.
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#43803 - 10/25/10 05:45 PM Re: Robert Johnson, sold his soul [Re: Prometheus9]
Draculesti Offline
Impaler
member


Registered: 09/18/07
Posts: 325
Loc: Rockville, Maryland
Robert Johnson was indeed one of the great bluesmen. The mythology around the man is certainly one of the interesting things about him, aside from the music. Interestingly, he wasn't the first musician to have such a mythology surrounding him. Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840), the renowned concert violinist, composer, and erstwhile guitarist and luthier (guitar maker) was one of the first musicians in history to have sold his soul for playing ability. As far as I remember, he didn't start the rumor himself, but his playing was so great, that many audiences were incredulous that such a technique could be formed through conventional means (i.e. practice and innate talent). Therefore, there arose this myth around him that he had sold his soul to the devil for the ability to play so well. It was also his presence on stage and the way he played, with a violent ferocity that left bowhairs broken, shredded, and hanging off of his bow, which lent him an almost devilish or possessed quality that seemed to only confirm it for the audiences of the day. Needless to say, repulsed and horrified, though morbidly curious, listeners flocked to his concerts ;\)

In a way, it's kind of an honor to have such a mythology associated with oneself. Very few musicians in history have had such a fantastic mythology bestowed upon them, and all have been what one may call "revolutionary".
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#43806 - 10/25/10 07:50 PM Re: Robert Johnson, sold his soul [Re: Draculesti]
Oxus Offline
member


Registered: 04/15/10
Posts: 510
Nicely put!

Paganini also played frightening sounds on his violin as well as 'strange' things for the times like horse whinnies and other animal sounds (think Vai).

He took up residence with a relative who was procurer of a wealthy cemetery, Paganini supposedly would practice in the moonlight on a balcony overlooking the cemetery.

Orpheus is another interesting musician with supernatural undertones!

The idea of the Muse Euterpe descending upon the musician to imbibe her with the Black Flame of Creation is another cool idea!

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