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Rock's Roots: Robert Johnson myth

 
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Doug
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2015 6:37 pm    Post subject: Rock's Roots: Robert Johnson myth Reply with quote

This is a great summary of the Robert Johnson story and the recently discovered 3rd photo discussion.

http://www.texasmonthly.com/daily-po...-not-authentic

IMHO, this article is right on the money: Robert's mythology is based on Tommy Johnson; and the 3rd photo may be Robert but is unverifiable. But there's also an either-or perspective on a couple of points in the summary I'd want to correct if I were the editor (in my dreams )

First, the article confuses African-based faith with Christian Satanism. Voodoo, or Hoodoo, based on African faith was merged with Christian faith and was not seen as either-or in the Delta. The fear of a literal Devil or the ability of one to align with Satan, was not part of Voodoo or Hoodoo but was based on Christian tradition. If you watch "The Blood of Jesus" from 1941, you'll see this clearly.

https://youtu.be/N0QZZ2r3e7s (music by Black Ace Turner)

Robert's references to Satan and to the Devil are based on this Christian fear of a literal Devil and the possibility one could even choose to align with the Devil. In addition to Christian-based Devil lyrics, Johnson also sings lyrics that refer to African-based Hoodoo practices such as "mojo" and "sprinkle Hot Foot Powder". Appreciating his inclusion of both these faith traditions, we can see how Robert represents his rich, complex African-American Delta culture.

Second, the article downplays Robert's technical skills as a singer and guitarist, elevating others such as the haunting Skip James as superior but lacking the power of Johnson's myth. Many very good guitarists are in awe of Robert's creativity and proficiency, some saying they thought it must be two guitarists when they first heard his recordings. With a range of skills beyond the best Country Blues musicians, Robert can move from soft and sensitive (Love in Vain) to loping (Crossroads) and to rough, aggressive (Preachin) styles, sometimes within the same tune, with great control from both hands. And his vocal techniques adapt to this full range as well.

But for these two weak points, this summary is really worth the read.
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jcyphe
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2015 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That myth goes way before even Tommy Johnson. It goes even further in African American and some even say African tradition that any great prowess or success comes from a bargain with an evil or just plain tricky spirit, the devil, etc.

You even see it today in hip-hop when you see people talk about how Jay Z or Kanye made a deal with the illuminanti or are in the illumaniti. With the implication that their success had/has to do with bargaining or sacrificing something spiritual or moral for material gain.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.texasmonthly.com/daily-post/49-experts-agree-third-photo-robert-johnson-not-authentic
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Doug
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2015 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jcyphe wrote:
That myth goes way before even Tommy Johnson. It goes even further in African American and some even say African tradition that any great prowess or success comes from a bargain with an evil or just plain tricky spirit, the devil, etc.

You even see it today in hip-hop when you see people talk about how Jay Z or Kanye made a deal with the illuminanti or are in the illumaniti. With the implication that their success had/has to do with bargaining or sacrificing something spiritual or moral for material gain.


Well yes, there's "That myth" in very broad terms. What I'm referring to is the myth specifically about Robert Johnson being misappropriated to him; it was Tommy Johnson's myth and he actively promoted it. But White writers got confused, or just took Tommy's tale and tacked it onto the other Johnson.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, success and power generally come from sacrifice. Unless you're born on third base and told to run home (rich I mean)
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Doug
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aen wrote:
Well, success and power generally come from sacrifice. Unless you're born on third base and told to run home (rich I mean)


Yeah, thanks, aen. White privilege.
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Brandon W
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doug wrote:
jcyphe wrote:
That myth goes way before even Tommy Johnson. It goes even further in African American and some even say African tradition that any great prowess or success comes from a bargain with an evil or just plain tricky spirit, the devil, etc.

You even see it today in hip-hop when you see people talk about how Jay Z or Kanye made a deal with the illuminanti or are in the illumaniti. With the implication that their success had/has to do with bargaining or sacrificing something spiritual or moral for material gain.


Well yes, there's "That myth" in very broad terms. What I'm referring to is the myth specifically about Robert Johnson being misappropriated to him; it was Tommy Johnson's myth and he actively promoted it. But White writers got confused, or just took Tommy's tale and tacked it onto the other Johnson.

lots of musicians were mixed up back then.. some intentionally and some just looked or sounded like a different person so they adopted the same name. Sonny boy williamsonand sonny boy williamson II for example. I have some super rare robert johnson stuff and i'll read through some of it again and see if i missed this..
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


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Doug
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2016 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MutantParty wrote:

Link


Yeah, I am familiar with this Robert Johnson. He sold his ankles to the Devil in exchange for Rock brilliance.
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