CROSS ROAD BLUES

Latest update on 22/05/2014

Artist: Robert Johnson
Author: Robert Johnson
Label: Vocalion
Year: 1936

The crossroads where he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for overnite guitar skill. Which crossroad? Make out for yourself. The Clarksdale Chamber of Commerce people firmly marked the intersection of Highway 61 and 49, the busiest roads in the region, disregarding the fact this is not the place where they crossed in Robert Johnson's days. In fact 61 & 49 touch and cross five or six times in and around Clarksdale. If you really want to drive the local Delta Blues Museum people mad, ask them for the direction. Walter Hill in his film Crossroads ('86) used a country intersection a couple of miles south-east of Beulah, MS, the brothers Coen in O Brother Where Art Thou filmed an absolutely unmarked crossing somewhere in Coahoma County, while the people of Tunica County, where Robert Johnson actually walked away and came back skilled, swear by the crossroad near Dockery cemetery on Bonnie Blue Road, just half a mile east of the historic Hwy 61 and the first crossroad he hit after leaving his mother's house. At least that makes logical sense.

Covers:

1954:

Elmore James [as Standing At The Crossroads; same topic, own lyrics]

1962:

Homesick James

1966:

Powerhouse [with Jack Bruce, Paul Jones, Stevie Winwood and Eric Clapton; first cover; on lp What's Shakin']

1966:

Allman Joys [vocal: Duane]

1968:

Cream [as Crossroads, with a line from Johnson's Traveling Riverside Blues; first recorded version for the BBC in December '66]

1970:

Derek & The Dominos

1976:

Lynyrd Skynyrd

1979:

Molly Hatchet

1981:

Rory Block

1982:

Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck [on Amnesty International charity album The Secret Policeman's Other Ball]

1986:

Ry Cooder [in film Crossroads]

1986:

Cowboy Junkies

2000:

Peter Green & Nigel Watson

2001:

Blues Band

2004:

Rush

2006:

Dion

2008:

Ricky Koole

2010:

Cyndi Lauper

Mostly associated with Robert Johnson, while the same soul-to-the-devil story was sung by his predecessor Tommy Johnson. There's a book published in 1926, classifying this story among Folk Beliefs Of The Southern Negro (Newbell N. Puckett, PhD - Oxford University Press). Of course royalties are due to the Robert Johnson estate any time someone covers his Cross Road Blues, but Ed Komera of the Blues Archive in Oxford, MS sees musical precedents in Leroy Carr's Straight Alky Blues ('29 - Vocalion). See also Keith Briggs' liner notes in cd box set Beg, Borrow Or Steal - The origins, music and influence of Robert Johnson (Catfish).

Contact


If you noticed blunt omissions, mis-interpretations or even out-and-out errors, please let us know by contacting us:

Arnold Rypens
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info@originals.be

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