Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Robert Johnson

DigiTrad:
IF I HAD POSSESSION OVER JUDGMENT DAY
LOVE IN VAIN


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Walking Blues (Robert Johnson) (14)
Robert Johnson - new account + photo (7)
Robert Johnson's Heir - Article (12)
Robert Johnson's Grave (1911-1938) (11)
Folklore: Robert Johnson at the Crossroads (13)
Robert Johnson - comments and biography (22)
Folklore: Robert Johnson/'devil' in picture? (54)
Robert Johnson's family tree (19)
Was Robert Johnson recorded at the wrong speed? (54)
Lyr Add: songs by Robert Johnson (18)
Robert Johnson - A Christian??????? Wah? (50)
Help: robert johnson biography (14)
Vanity Fair piece on Robert Johnson (5)
Third Robert Johnson photo? (13)
location of Robert Johnson's crossroads (28)
Robert Johnson (animation) films at youtube (61) (closed)
Lyr Req: Last Fair Deal Gone Down (Robert Johnson) (6)
Robert Johnson (third thread) (4)
Sold my soul like Robert Johnson (11)
Hellhounds on my trail - Robt Johnson story & docu (23)
Folklore: Robert Johnson (3)
HELP! Robert Johnson (the session man) (2)
Robert Johnson Special (25)
New Robert Johnson Gravesite Found (5)
Lyr Req: Malted Milk (Robert Johnson) (7)
Robert Johnson's Birthday (5)
Robert Johnson (4)
tonight Oz-tv: Robert Johnson (1)
bashing Robert Johnson (44)
Robert Johnson's Music (30)
Lyrics of Robert Johnson (11)
Lyr/Chords Req: Hot Tamales (Robert Johnson) (2)
Lyr Req: songs by Robert Johnson (7)
(origins) Origin: Sweet Home Chicago / Kokomo Blues (10)
Lyr Req: Crossroads / Crossroads Blues (R Johnson) (4)
Send Robert Johnson Wave file Please.? (3)


14 Feb 98 - 07:29 AM
chet w 14 Feb 98 - 03:37 PM
Jon W. 16 Feb 98 - 12:29 PM
Jon W. 16 Feb 98 - 07:15 PM
Earl 17 Feb 98 - 08:41 AM
Gene E 17 Feb 98 - 11:28 PM
therapon 18 Feb 98 - 01:43 AM
Barry Finn 18 Feb 98 - 09:36 AM
Bob Taylor 18 Feb 98 - 12:35 PM
Earl 18 Feb 98 - 01:09 PM
Gene E 18 Feb 98 - 11:01 PM
Biskit 30 Sep 00 - 12:54 AM
MMario 30 Sep 00 - 01:02 AM
MichaelAnthony 30 Sep 00 - 02:35 AM
GUEST,Starship 05 May 19 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,Starship 05 May 19 - 08:18 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: Robert Johnson
From:
Date: 14 Feb 98 - 07:29 AM

The subject of RJ came up in a recent thread - Sweet Home Chicago - and it occurs to me the The King of the Delta Blues Singers deserves a little cyber time of his own. While Robert penned just 29 songs, all have been done over and over again by artists throughout the spectrum of musical categories. As Jon W has pointed out, RJ's songs can usually be traced to other artists in terms of subject, lyrics, and, in some cases, melody - although certainly not with RJ's ability to draw pure emotion from his guitar. This practice was typical of the period - RJ had spent some time conveting the styles of Charlie Patton, Son House, and Willie Brown ( in keeping with the fact of duplicity at that time, there were at least three Willie Brown's that I know of).

There are some great resources to learn more about this man and his music even though much of what is known about Robert is speculation:

Robert Johnson - The complete recordings - all takes of his 29 songs have been remastered on 2 CDs. Also includes an interesting book that traces Robert's life, talks about his influences, and offers thoughts on Robert by Keith Richards and Eric Claption. Lyrics to all takes are provided as well.

Robert Johnson by Sam Charters - This book tells the story of Robert as it was known at the time it was written. Has Robert being stabbed instead of poisoned, though. Includes transcriptions of all 29 songs!

The Search for Robert Johnson - a video featuring John Hammond touring the delta speaking with people who new Robert - including Wiilie Mae - a very tender moment. Another highlight is Honeyboy Edwards (a friend of Robert's) doing Sweet Home Chicago. Highly recommended to blues fans and folk hisorians, alike.

I'm sure there is alot of other stuff available - please post.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: chet w
Date: 14 Feb 98 - 03:37 PM

I've often tried to imagine copyrighting or claiming authorship of melody to any blues song, particularly the standard 8 or 12 bar variety. Blues is (are?) very much a performer's art, and Robert Johnson's artistry lay in his performing, not in composing, although he was very good at that too. The whole idea of "borrowing" a melody or even lyrics to another author's work being an unsavory thing is relatively new, and not, I think, particularly important. Even in "classical" (actually Baroque) music, JS Bach once wrote a concerto for four harpsichords that is note for note almost the same as a concerto for four violins written earlier by A. Vivaldi. Vivaldi did the same. As for the oral tradition, of course tunes and words passed around freely, were claimed here and there, and generally did no harm, I guess until the subject of royalties came up. When you play the blues, you might give credit to the Yoruba and other peoples of west Africa from which the scales came directly. But even before that they may have come from somewhere else. One interesting thing I discovered (probably I was far from the first) is that if you take the standard pentatonic (5 note) blues scale and compare it to one of the most commonly known east Asian scale(the one used in the 60's chart hit "sukiyaki") they are exactly the same, except with the root in a different place. If we could find the real roots of music, they probable lie in the structure and function of the human ear and the way it's wired to the brain. Fascinatin' subject, if I ever get the time.

Let the good times roll, Chet W.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: Jon W.
Date: 16 Feb 98 - 12:29 PM

As far as resources for musicians hoping to learn something from Robert Johnson, there is a book out by Woody Mann which has music to all of of his tunes (one edition even has guitar tab) and words to most of them (but strangely enough, only one verse of Sweet Home Chicago). It is called THE COMPLETE ROBERT JOHNSON. I can recommend it highly.

One of my favorite RJ songs is Love In Vain. I suspect that he is the originator of that song, for at least three reasons. First, the device of adding a fourth line ("All my love's in vain") to each verse is unusual (I can't recall any other examples off the top of my head). Second, the chord progression is a little non-standard for blues. Third, I've never heard a different contemporary version. I like the song because not only the accompaniment but also the lyrics are so sparse--what is left unsaid is just as important as what is said. I get the idea that the singer has just admired the girl from a distance and she's leaving on the train without ever even knowing that he loved her.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr/Tune Add: LOVE IN VAIN (Robert Johnson)
From: Jon W.
Date: 16 Feb 98 - 07:15 PM

Here are the words and tune to "Love In Vain" in ABC Format:

X: 14
T: Love In Vain
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: Shuffle Blues
A: Delta
P: Vocal Line
B: The Complete Robert Johnson, Woody Mann
K: G
D/2E/2|GG G2 Z2 GD|B B3/2 Z4|Z D/2E/2 (3GGA A G3/2|
Z4 Z2 d/2d/2d/2d/2|(3ddG dG-G2 Z2|Z G/2G/2 GG (3=FGD- D2|Z8|
Z4 Z e2 B|dd/2B/2- B/2B/2G/2G/2 B2 Z2|Z E GE (3GAG- G2|Z2 GG E2 GD-|D Z Z2 Z4|

W: And I followed her to the station, with a suitcase in my hand,
W: And I followed her to the station, with a suitcase in my hand,
W: Well, it's hard to tell, it's hard to tell, when all your love's in vain,
W: All my love's in vain.

W: When the train rolled up to the station, I looked her in the eye.
W: When the train rolled up to the station, and I looked her in the eye,
W: Well, I was lonesome I felt so lonesome, and I could not help but cry.
W: All my love's in vain.

W: And the train it left the station, with two lights on behind.
W: And the train it left the station, with two lights on behind.
W: Well, the blue light was my blues, and the red light was my mind.
W: All my love's in vain.

W: Dee-dee-oh, ooh, Willae May
W: Oh--ay, ooh, Willae May
W: Ooh---Oh, wee-o-wo
W: All my love's in vain.

Correction to my previous message: The book THE COMPLETE ROBERT JOHNSON doesn't contain the lyrics except for one or two verses per song, written in the music along with the vocal line. I was thinking of another excellent book by Woody Mann called "Blues Guitar Anthology."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: Earl
Date: 17 Feb 98 - 08:41 AM

Another good resource for Robert Johnson fans is the Yazoo compilation called "The Roots of Robert Johnson." It contains recordings of the people who influenced Robert Johnson including Charlie Patton, Son House, Skip James, Kokomo Arnold, Leroy Car, Lonnie Johnson, Henry Thomas, The Mississippi Sheiks, etc. The liner notes are especiall y good at explaining the evolution of Robert Johnson's songs from earlier versions.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: Gene E
Date: 17 Feb 98 - 11:28 PM

Chet W,

I agree with your main point that the ownership of a blues song is a contradiction in terms. It's like who got the tiredest at work today, IT AINT THE POINT!

In my limited studies I've learned that the old Delta masters wanted to give away thier music so it could live on. If it were otherwise, the history of Delta blues being developed on plantations where would be artists came and went could not have happened. The guys that knew how to play and sing would never have been willing to teach others. I've read that many of them believed that if they gave their music away, they would become immortal.

We can't own it, we can only hope to do it some justice.

That's my 2 bits.

Gene (not quite Delta enough yet) E


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: therapon
Date: 18 Feb 98 - 01:43 AM

Gene, that's an interesting idea. Do you know of any examples, especially of a performer claiming immortality from passing on the music? The one thing I wonder, though: if the song is not the performer's, but rather belongs to the tradition (or whatever), how does the performer guarantee HIS immortality as opposed to, say, the person who sang it in the generation before or after him? Also, some of the things we hear Leadbelly say on his last sessions seem to suggest some sort of bid for ownership. After "Go Down, Old Hannah" (I think) he's told "yeah, I've heard that song before." He replies, "Not like THAT you haven't." (Forgive the paraphrase.) A very interesting question: does anyone know of a performer claiming the invention or some other sort of ownership ("no one sings it as well as I do") of a song which we (and their audience?) knew was not written by them?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: Barry Finn
Date: 18 Feb 98 - 09:36 AM

Therapon, your last question, wouldn't Elvis & Hound Dog fit the bill? Barry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: Bob Taylor
Date: 18 Feb 98 - 12:35 PM

Many greats in the field of literature believe that "ownership" of a story happens in the mind of the reader. Once the words are on paper, they have a life of their own, uncontrolled by the author. It is argued that each of us interpret and understand the words of a story in a unique way, based upon our unique experiences in life. I think the same thing happens in music. If you never felt blue, then it is hard to identify with someone singing the blues. (Fortunately, most of us have felt the blues at some time or another so we can identify with the music.) But I also agree with what someone else said...Ownership ain't the point. But, on the other hand, if the listener owns the music, then I guess we all have a shot at immortality. Sounds good to me....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: Earl
Date: 18 Feb 98 - 01:09 PM

The folk processes was so much a part of early blues that , I think, determining authorship is futile. There is not a lot of variation in melody and many lyric phrases appear again and again. The best we can do on many songs is find the first recording.

In blues, what preserves a song, and gives someone at least temporary "ownership" of a song is the performance. There is a difference, in any musical style, between just singing a song and really moving the listener. Both Robert Johnson and Leadbelly will be remembered for older songs that they didn't write because their performances were so intense. They each had the ability to take a song, make it there own, and share the experience with the listener.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: Gene E
Date: 18 Feb 98 - 11:01 PM

therapon,

My observations are a result of my informal study but I can say that in terms of ownership Robert Johnson is one of the few that can really claim ownership of his songs. That's not my opinion as much as it is a common tribute paid by his close fiends and generations of players after him.

As for examples of immortality through sharing the blues style; I read a part of an interview with Missipppi Fred McDowell where the interviewer asked him why he tried to teach everybody 'his' songs. He indicated in his reply that what he wanted most was for his music to live on and the only way he knew to do it was to give it away.

The person interviewing Fred felt it was a waste of his opportunity to earn more by not giving away his music. Fred tried to make him understand but I don't think he did.

I believe that having been discovered late (1959) on his farm near Como Missippi, Fred McDowell represents a direct line to the earliest days of the blues in the Delta. He created some of his earliest songs as far back as 1929 according to one album I have.

Before I really get to ramblin' I'll just say that the blues is much bigger than one artist can claim and most of the Delta Bluesmen knew it.

Gene E


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: Biskit
Date: 30 Sep 00 - 12:54 AM

I KNOW this is gonna sound really dumb...but what in the hell is ABC format???what is Z2????or,Z4????I'm pretty darn sure I've never played a F@#*#@n'z chord before. I don't mean to seem overly hostile but I have been lookin' for the chord progression for love in vain for three weeks and your post told me absolutly nothin'! I used to know it, I used to play it, but that was a bunch of years ago,I can come close,but it ain't "IT" please decipher for we the uninformed. Thank You -Biskit-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: MMario
Date: 30 Sep 00 - 01:02 AM

Biskit - check out the newcomer's FAQ - ABC is a means of transmitting tunes by text. There are bunches of programs that will convert to sheet music and even some that will then set chords to the melody automatically.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: MichaelAnthony
Date: 30 Sep 00 - 02:35 AM

Gene E wrote: I've read that many of them believed that if they gave their music away, they would become immortal.

Therapin wrote: The one thing I wonder, though: if the song is not the performer's, but rather belongs to the tradition (or whatever), how does the performer guarantee HIS immortality as opposed to, say, the person who sang it in the generation before or after him?

I think the singer/creator knows that what he is putting out is authentic and meaningful, and cares that it lives on beyond what he alone can do. If he can turn others on to it, regardless of meaningless things like credit, he does in fact live on...or at least the message does. What else or more can you do?

MA


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 05 May 19 - 11:14 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=Zi8u2AW0KJI Interesting interview (Bruce Conforth).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Robert Johnson
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 05 May 19 - 08:18 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi8u2AW0KJI Sorry. Messed up the clicky.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 18 October 3:33 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.