Robert Johnson: King of the Delta Blues

The Legend of the Delta Devil

Robert Johnson

disturbed. despair. torment. brooding.

These are just a few words that come to mind when describing the experience of hearing Robert Johnson's recordings for the first time. He was the original existential blues singer. He was pure raw genius.

These are my study notes on Robert Johnson, The Delta Devil (ongoing):

"...while Hot Springs' star is still Robert Johnson, who has turned out to be a worker on a Robinsonville, Miss. plantation." —Melody Maker, July 1937

The Deal with the Devil

The legend of the crossroads: Get yourself to the crossroads a little before midnight with your guitar. While playing, a big black man will approach you. Give him yor guitar and he'll tune it, play a piece, and then hand it back. After that, you'll be able to play anything.

As the story goes, Robert Johnson, who didn't know how to play the guitar at the time, left town and disappeared for almost a year. Upon his return to Robinsonville, he was a completely proficient and accomplished musician. Many people think he made a deal with the devil.