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Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads

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IF I HAD POSSESSION OVER JUDGMENT DAY
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Dan Schatz 23 Mar 15 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 23 Mar 15 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,Mike Yates 24 Mar 15 - 04:50 AM
GUEST,# 24 Mar 15 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,pete from seven stars link 24 Mar 15 - 12:37 PM
GUEST,# 24 Mar 15 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 24 Mar 15 - 02:26 PM
GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery. 24 Mar 15 - 02:56 PM
GUEST,# 24 Mar 15 - 03:45 PM
Will Fly 24 Mar 15 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,leeneia 24 Mar 15 - 06:44 PM
Rusty Dobro 25 Mar 15 - 03:55 PM
Rusty Dobro 26 Mar 15 - 03:02 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 23 Mar 15 - 12:51 PM

RadioLab, a wonderful NPR show that usually focuses on science, delved into the realm of music with a fascinating piece about the folklore and fakelore surrounding Robert Johnson and his supposed deal with the devil.

The piece is about half an hour, and very well done. Among other things, they discover that the story about the devil and the crossroads was originally told about another bluesman, Tommy Johnson (no relation), and became attached to Robert Johnson only after academics got involved. They also cast doubt on the famous death certificate and Robert Johnson's date of death.

All of which sounds like a bit of a bummer, but it's actually a great listen. Listen here.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 23 Mar 15 - 01:16 PM

I see this as a opportunity to draw Mudcatters attention to the wonderful Adam Gussow.

Adam at the Crossroads


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 04:50 AM

In some West African countries you can still find shrines to the trickster god Legba. These are often placed at crossroads. Early Christian missionaries felt that Legba was, in fact, an African form of the devil. And so began an association between the devil and crossroad sites.

Europeans also had beliefs that crossrodas were dangerous places. The spirits of the dead could reside in such places and so people would try to avoid visiting such places after dark. In fact, Gypsies would often camp by crossroads because they actually felt safe there from local people, who were often anti-gypsy and who would otherwise attack their camps to send them on their way.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: GUEST,#
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 11:18 AM

"That someone is legendary blues musician Son House. Son said he knew for a fact where Johnson made his deal, and it wasn't in Clarksdale, but in Rosedale. In fact, he claims in was right where Hwy 8 intersects with Hwy 1. That's the real crossroads, he says."

from

http://www.tdblues.com/2008/03/the-real-crossroads/


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: GUEST,pete from seven stars link
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 12:37 PM

isn't it rosedale in creams crossroad ?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: GUEST,#
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 02:07 PM

Sure is, Pete.

"I'm going down to Rosedale, take my rider by my side
I'm going down to Rosedale, take my rider by my side
You can still barrelhouse, baby, on the riverside"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 02:26 PM

If course, the crossroads "selling your soul to the devil" story is pure mumbo-jumbo ( I hope we all realise that! ).

And, there are lots of stories about musicians who, seemingly, make unnaturallly startling progress at their art.
Charlie Parker is probably the best example of that.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery.
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 02:56 PM

My understanding from something I read in one of the many articles claiming to tell his life story, is that Johnsons miraculous improvement in his playing is down to the fact that whilst on his travels he spent a year taking lessons with a professional guitar teacher, practising a lot, and honing his skill playing endless gigs of all sorts, not just blues gigs wherever he could find them.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: GUEST,#
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 03:45 PM

The whole notion of selling one's soul to the devil is stupid. Allegorical I can understand. Fact? Pull the other one.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 04:31 PM

My Irish great-grandmother used to tell stories of setting up a dancing platform at a crossroads on a Saturday night, with musicians, drink, and a bubbling cauldron of crubeens - pigs trotters.

Convenient for people to meet, and away from the Garda and the priests...

Whether this is factual or not, I can't say but, if true, it's an interesting take on the crossroads idea.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 06:44 PM

I once looked at a book of pictures taken in Ireland in 1905. One showed people dancing at the spot where three dirt tracks came together. (You could hardly call them roads.) There were young men and women, the women in white blouses and long dark skirts.

Three musicians played for them - an old man with a fiddle and two little boys with whistles.

It was interesting, after listening to Irish dance tunes in concerts and at sessions, to see 'the real thing.'


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 25 Mar 15 - 03:55 PM

I have always understood that the original story came from LeDell Johnson, brother of Tommy, who in an interview with the ethnomusicologist Davis Evans, attributed the story to Tommy, not Robert.

The switch occurred when the white audience latched on to Robert in the 60's - in his lifetime Tommy was the better-known artist.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 26 Mar 15 - 03:02 AM

Whoops: should be David Evans. Excellent bluesman in his own right.


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