Robert Johnson – Crossroad Blues

My introduction to Robert Johnson came from Eric Clapton while playing with Cream. Johnson was a great blues guitarist that supposedly sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads to be able to play the blues. Some of the songs he wrote played into this myth. He only cut 29 songs that he recorded in a two year period of 1936 and 1937.

I’m not a blues expert, nor do I play one on tv, but I love these old blues recordings. Johnson wasn’t the only one but they influenced everything I’ve liked since. They are also historical documents of the time.

Robert Johnson’s slide playing was so complete that he sounded like two guitar players instead of one on some songs. The atmosphere of those recordings is incredible to me and something that you can’t duplicate. Johnson’s influence is huge. Keith Richards, Eric Clapton,  Bob Dylan. Duane Allman, and too many more to list.

Movies such as the 1980’s film Crossroads brought Johnson many more fans. My friend Ronald was one of those people and went out and bought everything he could find of Johnson in the 80s. Many people have searched out Johnson after listening to artists that were influenced by him. His voice will haunt you after you listen to his recordings. His songs are pure and timeless.

Some quotes on Robert Johnson

Keith Richards – Brian Jones had the first album, and that’s where I first heard it. I’d just met Brian, and I went around to his apartment-crash pad, actually, all he had in it was a chair, a record player, and a few records. One of which was Robert Johnson. He put it on, and it was just-you know-astounding stuff. When I first heard it, I said to Brian, “Who’s that?” “Robert Johnson”. I said, “Yeah, but who’s the other guy playing with him?” Because I was hearing two guitars, and it took me a long time to realize he was actually doing it all by himself.
Eric Clapton – His music is like my oldest friend, always in the back of my head and on the horizon. It’s the finest music I’ve ever heard.  I’ve always trusted its purity. And I always will.’ I don’t know what more you could say….”
Robert Cray – He is a perfect example of what anybody should listen to if they want to get an understanding of the blues… and American history.’

Below is Robert Johnson and down below is Cream’s version.

Cross Road Blues

I went down to the crossroad
fell down on my knees
I went down to the crossroad
fell down on my knees
Asked the lord above “Have mercy now
save poor Bob if you please”
Yeeooo, standin at the crossroad
tried to flag a ride
ooo ooo eee
I tried to flag a ride
Didn’t nobody seem to know me babe
everybody pass me by
Standin at the crossroad babe
risin sun goin down
Standin at the crossroad babe
eee eee eee, risin sun goin down
I believe to my soul now,
Poor Bob is sinkin down
You can run, you can run
tell my friend Willie Brown
You can run, you can run
tell my friend Willie Brown
(th)’at I got the croosroad blues this mornin Lord
babe, I’m sinkin down
And I went to the crossroad momma
I looked east and west
I went to the crossroad baby
I looked east and west
Lord, I didn’t have no sweet woman
ooh-well babe, in my distress

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

39 thoughts on “Robert Johnson – Crossroad Blues”

  1. What an amazing story- when he died he was basically and unknown then he is rediscovered decades after his death. I can’t recall where I first heard of him but it was probably in reading something Clapton said- I bought the two albums that were out–and then the box set when it arrived. Johnson died having no idea the influence and fame he would later have.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I think it had to have been Clapton who turned me on to Johnson… have visited the Johnson sites in the Mississippi Delta- including his numerous ‘graves”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You have done better me… I’ve wanted to visit some of those…also on a slighty different note but around in the area…I want to visit Muscle Shoals studio…its not that far away

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I have never been to Muscle Shoals… 25 years ago my brother and I spent a summer going all over and spent a few days down in the Delta area- going to Muddy Waters cabin- the Johnson sites- the motel where Bessie Smith died, Clarksville, Miss etc..

        Liked by 1 person

      4. We had a blast- ballparks and historical places- national parks. I think back on all that driving- no way I could do that today. Once we drove 44 straight hours from San Diego to back home.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Dang that is a drive…my back would be frozen by that time lol. What I’ve always wanted to do is to rent a car…drive across country to different locations and then turn it in and fly back.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. A couple months ago I threw out the idea of just driving to the pacific coast in California and driving back- my wife was a no go on that idea LOL>.. I read years ago that Bill Russell {celtics Bill} would do that now and then.. I knew that idea wasn’t going to fly LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yea mine didn’t like the idea of driving and even flying back. She knows I would stop at the “biggest ball of yarn in the world!” places all of the way…that would be the fun of it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I love those recordings. Everything that I like comes from this… that atmosphere on the recordings is great…
      BTW…the comments are closed on your Cuba post but I loved your pictures from there…Hemingway’s house and the Beatles stuff. Plus all of those cars.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes now that I would like. I like it better than Harper. They are saying Puig would be the person traded most likely… put Kluber in the NL and he would be that much better.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve hit the red button! This is where it’s all from! I’ve had several shots at playing this, and will try again… It’s the rhythm that’s tough. Back in the day I remember reading he played with his back to you so you couldn’t see what he was doing. Now we know the alt tunings etc and I’m getting the slide out today!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh no no no lol… I played bass on it…which is fun beyond belief. Jack Bruce was all over the place doing octaves… you can really let go doing it.
        I’m not a great lead player… Clapton improvised those solos…pulling notes out of thin air…I listen just to listen to the solo.


      2. Him and John Entwistle were my top two probably…as far as rock…I did like McCartney’s playing but it was a different style…very melodic.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. God, it goes back so far, my enjoyment of the early blues. Robert Johnson… I probably discovered his music at a record shop in the 60s. Have you heard Son House? I saw him when he was very old and played some small gigs in England. I think the one I went to was recorded for radio, probably the BBC.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I just wrote this for a post I am writing about the Grateful Dead song Easy Wind and that is how I stumbled onto your post. Hunter said that his original arrangement of this song was a little bit closer to one of those slippin’ and slidin’ riffs that Robert Johnson was known for playing. Johnson developed his own technique, using a bottleneck slide sparsely, but he was able to blend rhythm and slide phases together so well, that he sounded like two guitar players instead of one on some songs.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. His guitar playing was unique you are right…it was like two guitar players. Many people thought that there were two players.

        Jim I’ll catch up with you….I was up 24 hours working on an email problem.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: