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Thread: Robert Johnson (no mando)

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Robert Johnson (no mando)

    Radio show and new book, based on memories from Johnson's sister.


    https://www.cbc.ca/radio/q/new-book-...nson-1.5625152
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Registered User Scotter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Robert Johnson (no mando)

    Wow, I'm just getting around to discovering this thread and I'm surprised at how little interest it seems to have here. A new photo of RJ! This reminds me a bit of when John Tefteller found that full frame portrait of Charley Patton in Wisconsin about 15 years ago. I enjoyed the spirit of the article and it does appear to be in line with that of Elijah Wald's book, "Escaping The Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of The Blues" which is a must read for anyone interested in RJ. Robert Palmer's "Deep Blues" mythologizing of the sold-his-soul-to-the-devil legend may have helped promote a resurgent interest in Johnson but ultimately it dehumanized him and reduced him to caricature.

    I look forward to reading this one ASAP.
    Play that which you feel is groovy, get down with your bad self, and shake your money maker if it makes sense for you to do so.

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Robert Johnson (no mando)

    Thanks for you thoughts, Scotter. Blues fans are definitely a minority at Mandolin Cafe, though a great many others play blues-influenced music: bluegrass, southern/Appalachian old time, jazz, and rock.

    My daughter gave me the book, Delta Blues, by Ted Gioia, for Father's Day. Gioia makes a strong and well-researched argument that the story of Robert Johnson and the devil was told by both black southerners and white record collectors in the 1940's, so Palmer and the 1960's blues revivalists can't be blamed completely for that story. Furthermore, Gioia says that stories of people selling their soul at a crossroads for remarkable gifts, including musical skill, are common to African-American folklore of the south. According to the blues musician Tommy Johnson's brother, Tommy, who was older than and lived close by Robert Johnson, told the same story about himself before it was associated with Robert. Gioia and others have pointed out that in the religious viewpoint of many in the Delta, all blues singers and players have sold their souls to the devil, the proof being that they play the devil's music. Many blues singers were conflicted between their attractions to both religion and blues, the off-and-on preacher, Son House, being a notable example. The crossroads story could be metaphorical rather than literal.

    Furthermore, a musician may well spread or at least not deny such a story -- Gioia speculates that Robert, who learned Tommy's guitar style, might have learned and told his story too. After all, people will pay to see and hear the guy who sold his soul to the devil -- look at the many metal bands that use Satanic symbols, though one doubts that many are devil worshippers. Lately, I read of some rock musician with a bad reputation, perhaps Keith Richards, who was accused of doing some terrible, gross thing. The press asked him about it, and his manager was relieved to hear that he didn't deny it. Bad publicity is good publicity for a so-called rebel, which was a role the old blues musicians had.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Dan Scullin dscullin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Robert Johnson (no mando)

    Thanks for the tip on RJ. I downloaded the eBook from the local library and am into several chapters and it is an interesting read. Very informative re: the trials and tribulations that people of color went through in that era.
    Dan Scullin
    Louisville, KY

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    Default Re: Robert Johnson (no mando)

    Thanks for the book information. Big blues fan.
    " Practice every time you get a chance." - Bill Monroe

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    Default Re: Robert Johnson (no mando)

    You guys might be interested in a new book Brother Robert by Annye Anderson, Robert's sister. Also the Conforth's book Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson. Johnson has become emblematic of the blues and there are so many great blues players. My mando favorites include Howard Armtsrong, Johnnie Young, Carl Martin and Charlie McCoy.

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Robert Johnson (no mando)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Buckingham View Post
    You guys might be interested in a new book Brother Robert by Annye Anderson, Robert's sister. Also the Conforth's book Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson. Johnson has become emblematic of the blues and there are so many great blues players. My mando favorites include Howard Armtsrong, Johnnie Young, Carl Martin and Charlie McCoy.
    See Post #1, but thanks for the info on the Conforth book.
    Last edited by Ranald; Jul-29-2020 at 11:07am. Reason: spelling
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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