Robert Johnson

I said yesterday that I`d write about Robert Johnson; there`s a lot of hoodoo wrapped up around the man, in particular that he sold his soul to the devil down in Clarksdale. Originally, Son House suggested, Johnson was not regarded as a good musician but after the trade with Satan he returned with the blazing skills and blues mastery of a demi-god.

I`d like to post a video here in which Eric Clapton talks about Robert Johnson and plays “Stones in the Passway”. It`s a great place to start exploring what Robert Johnson has to offer and why he is who he is. It also illuminates the sheer technique, the impact of the unusual, that is often confused with something arcane, mythical, metaphysical, divine and otherworldly and more specifically in the blues with superstition, an encounter with the Devil. It`s also interesting to note that the cross tempo section Eric Clapton discusses is a technique that Johnny Winter has used in varying degrees throughout his career. Johnny Winter`s Progressive Blues Experiment album from 1968 is chock full of blues.


  1. Stratoblogster

    I didn’t know EC could cop Robert Johnson like that! Still surprising us. Rory Block can do that stuff too, and it’s spooky!

    BTW– Thanks for stoppin’ by Stratoblogster!

  2. Jamorama Post author

    Much of the early blues protagonists framed their content within the context of african american hoodoo/religious belief wrapped up in the historical context of migratory diaspora and most of the cliches of the blues narrative are more culturally rich in meaning than they might at first appear. The simple cliche of “the highway” alone is extrapolated and interpolated by numerous artists over the last 90 years – Bob Dylan alone has done so for example many many times across his recorded work. A great bridging work for the blues to the present date is Michael Grays` Song and Dance Man III, which illustrated Dylan`s reappropriation of the blues through other forms.

    The narrative and folk tales, the telling of lies or competitive tales, the healthily obscene “putting in the dozens”, the long and witty toasts and the epigrammatic rhyming couplets which enliven the conversation of folk negro and harlem hipster alike, have their reflections in the blues.

    Paul Oliver`s book “Conversation with the Blues” (1965)

    There`s a great thesis here

    about the concept of the Trickster, which leads me onto what I`ve talked about previously with regards to Radioheads re-appropriation of the blues through a series of post modern metaphors and the sublime:

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