Robert Johnson-King of the Delta Blues Singers Robert Johnson-King of the Delta Blues Singers
Robert Johnson (May 8, 1911-August 16, 1938) is considered by many musicians and Blues fans to be one of the most influential Bluesmen that has ever lived. The 29 seminal songs that he recorded between 1936 to 1937 are considered some of the best recordings in Blues history. Every aspect of the human condition is expressed. Songs such as “Crossroads Blues and Hellhound on My Trail” communicate the soul of man who lived life with a desperate edge.
In 1961, Columbia records released “Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers” (Columbia 1654). On this album 16 of Robert’s 29 songs were released on an album medium. Before this point the recordings of Robert Johnson were only available in the their original 78 RPM form owned by individual collectors. The impact of this album was immediate for musicians ranging from Eric Clapton to Bob Dylan to Keith Richards. In 1968, Columbia records released a second volume of Robert’s song that also had 16 songs and included some repeats of songs from the first album. In 1990, Columbia records(now Sony Records) released a box set of the complete recordings of Robert Johnson, including all out-takes. The 1990 boxed set of Robert Johnson’s work went platinum and won a Grammy Award for Best Historical Album. Robert Johnson was also presented, via his son Claude Johnson, with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2006. The spirit and music of Robert Johnson will continue to delight and inspire generations of musicians and
Blues fans for centuries to come.
Three favorite songs by Robert Johnson
Crossroads Blues Preachin’ Blues Hellhound on My Trail Youtube video Reviews:
Crossroads Blues: This is the song that helped fuel the belief that Robert Johnson sold his soul to Satan. Mythology has it that in 1930 Robert Johnson went to the crossroads of Highway 49 and Highway 61 to make a pact with Satan for the ability to play guitar and sing with the dexterity and the passion that we have all have come to love and cherish.
Preachin’ Blues: “Preachin Blues” was directly influenced by the Son House song “Preachin’ the Blues.” Son House’s song was recorded in 1930 and exerted a powerful influence on Robert Johnson’s version. However, the original is composed of lyrics that did not follow a typical, linear story line. Whereas Robert Johnson’s version directly described the blues as “Walking like a man.” Johnson’s slide guitar work on this song is amazing and is very difficult to match even for the most advanced guitar player.
3. Hellhound on My Trail: Considered an audio statement of fear, of inevitable doom, “Hellhound on My Trail” is one of the most profound songs in the repertoire of Robert Johnson. There is a need, expressed by Johnson, that he must “keep on moving” to avoid the hellhound on his trail. Musically, this song was directed influenced by the song “Devil Got My Woman” by Bentonia, Mississippi Bluesman Skip James. But as James’ song was directed to a woman possessed by the devil, Robert stands alone as the doomed protagonist of his song.