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#1
If you're enough open minded to believe that there are things that exists but can't be seen (such as music) then you're invited to read this post.

If you're a musician or at least you're trying to become one, you must have felt that frustration or anger you experience after missing a note or being unable to tune your instrument. Imagine that one of those days, when you are really reconsidering your future as a musician, the devil comes to you and offers you an unique musical genious in exchange for you soul. What would you say?

Apparently this same situation has been happening since music was born. The most famous legend of this kind is the one referred to Robert "Howlin' Wolf" Johnson, the most famous Delta Blues musician and the most influential. Considered by some to be the "Grandfather of Rock-and-Roll," his vocal phrasing, original songs, and guitar style influenced a range of musicians, including Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, U2, and Eric Clapton, who called Johnson "the most important blues musician who ever lived."

The junction of Highway 61 and Highway 49 in Clarksdale, Mississippi is designated as the famous crossroads where ? according to legend ? Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for mastery of the blues. However, there is no proof it is the site. Several miles north, near to Rosedale City, is another junction where the two highways diverge again; between the junctions the two Highways share the route. It has never been confirmed as the place Johnson meant. If the crossroads in the song was ever anything other than a metaphor, it could have been any intersection in that part of Mississippi, or the world.

Here is a transcription of a "vision" about Johnson's fateful moment that had appeared to bluesman Henry Goodman as he was traveling the road from Rosedale to Anguila:

Robert Johnson been playing down in Yazoo City and over at Beulah trying to get back up to Helena, ride left him out on a road next to the levee, walking up the highway, guitar in his hand propped up on his shoulder. October cool night, full moon filling up the dark sky, Robert Johnson thinking about Son House preaching to him, "Put that guitar down, boy, you drivin' people nuts." Robert Johnson needing as always a woman and some whiskey. Big trees all around, dark and lonesome road, a crazed, poisoned dog howling and moaning in a ditch alongside the road sending electrified chills up and down Robert Johnson's spine. obert Johnson, feeling bad and lonesome, knows people up the highway in Gunnison. Can get a drink of whiskey and more up there. Man sitting off to the side of the road on a log at the crossroads says, "You're late, Robert Johnson." Robert Johnson drops to his knees and says, "Maybe not."

The man stands up, tall, barrel-chested, and black as the forever-closed eyes of Robert Johnson's stillborn baby, and walks out to the middle of the crossroads where Robert Johnson kneels. He says, "Stand up, Robert Johnson. You want to throw that guitar over there in that ditch with that hairless dog and go on back up to Robinsonville and play the harp with Willie Brown and Son, because you just another guitar player like all the rest, or you want to play that guitar like nobody ever played it before? Make a sound nobody ever heard before? You want to be the King of the Delta Blues and have all the whiskey and women you want?"

"That's a lot of whiskey and women, Devil-Man."

"I know you, Robert Johnson," says the man.

Robert Johnson, feels the moonlight bearing down on his head and the back of his neck as the moon seems to be growing bigger and bigger and brighter and brighter. He feels it like the heat of the noonday sun bearing down, and the howling and moaning of the dog in the ditch penetrates his soul, coming up through his feet and the tips of his fingers through his legs and arms, settling in that big empty place beneath his breastbone causing him to shake and shudder like a man with the palsy. Robert Johnson says, "That dog gone mad." The man laughs. "That hound belong to me. He ain't mad, he's got the Blues. I got his soul in my hand."

The dog lets out a low, long soulful moan, a howling like never heard before, rhythmic, syncopated grunts, yelps, and barks, seizing Robert Johnson like a Grand Mal, and causing the strings on his guitar to vibrate, hum, and sing with a sound dark and blue, beautiful, soulful chords and notes possessing Robert Johnson, taking him over, spinning him around, losing him inside of his own self, wasting him, lifting him up into the sky. Robert Johnson looks over in the ditch and sees the eyes of the dog reflecting the bright moonlight or, more likely so it seems to Robert Johnson, glowing on their own, a deep violet penetrating glow, and Robert Johnson knows and feels that he is staring into the eyes of a Hellhound as his body shudders from head to toe.

The man says, "The dog ain't for sale, Robert Johnson, but the sound can be yours. That's the sound of the Delta Blues."

"I got to have that sound, Devil-Man. That sound is mine. Where do I sign?"

The man says, "You ain't got a pencil, Robert Johnson. Your word is good enough. All you got to do is keep walking north. But you better be prepared. There are consequences."

"Prepared for what, Devil-man?"

"You know where you are, Robert Johnson? You are standing in the middle of the crossroads. At midnight, that full moon is right over your head. You take one more step, you'll be in Rosedale. You take this road to the east, you'll get back over to Highway 61 in Cleveland, or you can turn around and go back down to Beulah or just go to the west and sit up on the levee and look at the River. But if you take one more step in the direction you're headed, you going to be in Rosedale at midnight under this full October moon, and you are going to have the Blues like never known to this world. My left hand will be forever wrapped around your soul, and your music will possess all who hear it. That's what's going to happen. That's what you better be prepared for. Your soul will belong to me. This is not just any crossroads. I put this "X" here for a reason, and I been waiting on you."

Robert Johnson rolls his head around, his eyes upwards in their sockets to stare at the blinding light of the moon which has now completely filled tie pitch-black Delta night, piercing his right eye like a bolt of lightning as the midnight hour hits. He looks the big man squarely in the eyes and says, "Step back, Devil-Man, I'm going to Rosedale. I am the Blues."

The man moves to one side and says, "Go on, Robert Johnson. You the King of the Delta Blues. Go on home to Rosedale. And when you get on up in town, you get you a plate of hot tamales because you going to be needing something on your stomach where you're headed."


The story of his death fills out the legend: Allegedly poisoned by the owner of a jook joint he was playing in (because he'd been flirting with the owner's wife), he was said to be "on all fours, 'baying like a hell hound' moments before he died". Johnson himself portrayed this fateful moment in three of his most famous songs: "Me and The Devil Blues", "The Crossroads Blues", and " The Travelin' Riverside Blues".

But there is more...the devil blues legend is closely related to another rock legend: "The 27 Club Legend" a popular culture reference to a group of several talented rock musicians, each of whom had a meteoric rise to success that was tragically cut short by death at age 27. The most famous between them are: Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942 ? September 18, 1970), Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 ? October 4, 1970), Jim Morrison (December 8, 1943 ? July 3, 1971), Brian Jones (February 28, 1942 ? July 3, 1969) and Kurt Cobain (February 20, 1967 ? ca. April 5, 1994). Amazingly, Robert Johnson (May 8, 1911 ? August 16, 1938) also died at the age 27, and because of that believers now say that rest of the 27 club also had made a pact with the devil.
Those cases above are believed to be direct pacts with Satan, but there are some indirect exceptions, for example Eric Clapton is believed to have done such a pact with Satan, but he wasnt taken at the age of 27, apparently the devil took his sons life in exchange.

Well its enough for today... I'm going down to the crossroads to see if i can flag a ride...
#2
Ronnie Dio created the devil horns in music.
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#4
I hate to tell you, but you should check your facts.
Howlin' Wolf is Chester Burnett, an entirely different bluesman.
Not a moniker of Robert Johnson's.

and he died of Pnemonia a week after the poisoning incident, which wasn't related, as far as we know.
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#5
You, sir, are a moron.

Mr. Zoso is entirely correct, and you are entirely wrong.
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#6
Quote by cadmium_blimp
So it doesn't work at just any crossroads? I really can't play crap.


Apparently it doesnt have anything to do with a determinate place, it must be something between your needs to express yourself and the devils choise. But, if you want to know a little more about that famous crossroads follow this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Highway_61
#7
Quote by rocknroll blues
You, sir, are a moron.

Mr. Zoso is entirely correct, and you are entirely wrong.


Ok, i was wrong about his nickname, but... how does it make me entirely wrong? What kind of ape are you? show some respect to all of us and use some argumentative ideas if you don't agree.
#8
And it was a story told by son house years after johnsons death, so you nor anyone else actually know's if it really happened.

Its a great story, but thats all i think it is.
Tears in waves, minds on fire
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#9
Quote by fronkpies
And it was a story told by son house years after johnsons death, so you nor anyone else actually know's if it really happened.

Its a great story, but thats all i think it is.



Actually no, Son House was older than Johnson, moreover, Johnson used to listen to Son House's song when he was a teenager. Apparently, one day, Robert started playing like a pro bluesman and he created a new style for blues and succeed inmediatly. As Ive read, Son House started tellin the story to everybody the minute after Johnson started playing, and people believed him, specially because Son House was not only a musician, he also was a preacher, a minister of the Catolic Church.

I've been researching a little more and I found that Johnson wasn't the first and only bluesman that alleged to have made a pact with the devil. A couple of bluesmen before Johnson even started playing, also from the delta, used to tell people that they had had encounters with the devil as well.
#10
Quote by God_Clapton
Actually no, Son House was older than Johnson, moreover, Johnson used to listen to Son House's song when he was a teenager. Apparently, one day, Robert started playing like a pro bluesman and he created a new style for blues and succeed inmediatly. As Ive read, Son House started tellin the story to everybody the minute after Johnson started playing, and people believed him, specially because Son House was not only a musician, he also was a preacher, a minister of the Catolic Church.

I've been researching a little more and I found that Johnson wasn't the first and only bluesman that alleged to have made a pact with the devil. A couple of bluesmen before Johnson even started playing, also from the delta, used to tell people that they had had encounters with the devil as well.


First of all, Son House was not a Catholic, and the Catholic Church doesn't have ministers anyway.

House was also never a guitarist and Minister at the same time. He quit. He had been chastizing people for play or listening to blues, and at the same time fell in love with it. So he quit to become a guitarist.
Have you heard about my baby? Yes, how I love her, you don't know.
Have you heard about my baby? Yes, how I love her, you don't know.
I declare it hurt be so bad, when I heard she'd got to go.
#11
Quite a temptation but I dont think I'd ever sell my soul to the devil to play the guitar better.
The times they are a changin'.....
#12
Quote by fronkpies
And it was a story told by son house years after johnsons death, so you nor anyone else actually know's if it really happened.

Its a great story, but thats all i think it is.


We've got a real genius in the forum.
#13
Quote by Italy's Finest
Quite a temptation but I dont think I'd ever sell my soul to the devil to play the guitar better.


Kind of hard to sell something that doesn't exist to another thing that doesn't exist.
#15
Quote by Maet
Kind of hard to sell something that doesn't exist to another thing that doesn't exist.


Phhh shows what you know,

once when i was a kid i sold my soul to my friend millhouse, what followed was great adventure but all worked out well.
Tears in waves, minds on fire
Nights alone by your side
#16
Quote by Maet
Kind of hard to sell something that doesn't exist to another thing that doesn't exist.


were not all athiests around here...most of us believe in souls and the devil.
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#17
Good for a laugh.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt.
He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.


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#18
Actually, this myth actually predates Robert Johnson with blues guitarist Tommy Johnson who did the same thing, except he openly told people about it. Later protrayed in the 90s(?) film 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Johnson

And the selling of the soul story predates back to around 1830 France with violinist(and guitarist) Niccolò Paganini.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niccol%C3%B2_Paganini

Of course, I'd never sell my soul for guitar playing(or anything for that matter).
"...And I'm pretty sure what you did to my children's snowman is illegal, if not, sodomy."
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#19
Quote by BlueOyster23
Actually, this myth actually predates Robert Johnson with blues guitarist Tommy Johnson who did the same thing, except he openly told people about it. Later protrayed in the 90s(?) film 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Johnson

And the selling of the soul story predates back to around 1830 France with violinist(and guitarist) Niccolò Paganini.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niccol%C3%B2_Paganini

Of course, I'd never sell my soul for guitar playing(or anything for that matter).


yeah i remember that spoof from o brother where art thou...interesting fact...the last scene where there in the auditorium...was filmed at the high school my mom went to.
Quote by deg0ey
The best pickups for emo are no pickups at all...


Gear:

1996 Les Paul Classic w/ Alnico II's
Marshall Jubilee 2550
Avatar 2x12..V30 and G12H
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#20
^Yeah, that's like how the school in 'THe Field of Dreams' is where I went to for middle school.
"...And I'm pretty sure what you did to my children's snowman is illegal, if not, sodomy."
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#21
Quote by God_Clapton
... Robert "Howlin' Wolf" Johnson...

Who?
I assume you mean Robert Johnson who has nothing to do with Howlin' Wolf...

And yes, Robert Johnson never actually claimed to have sold his soul to the devil, that rumour was actually started unintentionally by Son House himself who said of Johnson "He must have sold his soul to play like that."
Tommy Johnson was the man who actually claimed to sell his soul but he got a bad deal coz his music is naff and he yodels (sp?).
The tradition is in fact much older then that, and many african tribal religions have legends about swapping your soul with a spirit in exchange for skill in a certain area. It is likely that the legend came over to america with black slaves.
Last edited by CheckOutSerafin at Jun 5, 2006,
#22
Quote by bonchie1
were not all athiests around here...most of us believe in souls and the devil.



Hard to be a musician and not see soul.

Although I'm a believer that music is the human soul, but at the same time, an instrument can also have a soul. And when the two souls work together, it's just about the sweetest sound you'll ever hear.
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#24
Quote by bonchie1
were not all athiests around here...most of us believe in souls and the devil.



im a catholic, and i defedently believe in god, even if he dosent exist, it is proven in studies that religous people on average do better in life because they have something to believe in....
#25
I have my music and myself to believe in
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt.
He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.


Remember: A prudent question is one half of wisdom.

Click.
#26
Quote by -AliceCooper
im a catholic, and i defedently believe in god, even if he dosent exist, it is proven in studies that religous people on average do better in life because they have something to believe in....



hahahaha

thats christian propoganda for you.
Tears in waves, minds on fire
Nights alone by your side
#30
Quote by distilledspirit
Maybe that's your opinion.


Maybe you could state another self-evident truth?

Where did he tell you all to think the same way?

Bloody hell, get over it.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt.
He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.


Remember: A prudent question is one half of wisdom.

Click.
#31
ugh... find the whole athiest/agnostic vs everything else debate on internet forums to be terribly cliche.
not that what is going on here can be considered a debate...
#32
Quote by zxZoSoxz
I hate to tell you, but you should check your facts.
Howlin' Wolf is Chester Burnett, an entirely different bluesman.
Not a moniker of Robert Johnson's.

and he died of Pnemonia a week after the poisoning incident, which wasn't related, as far as we know.


well you can easily blame a supernatural being like the devil for the poisoning.

but yeah, howlin wolf isnt RJ
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#33
That was entertaining. But I agree with fronkpies, it's a great story, but that's it.
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#34
havent any of you seen the movie "The Crossroads" its not that great until the end. Basically the same/similar story line. I havent seen it in a while but I believe this old blues guy sells his soul to the devil and this kid has to duel with the devil or somethin. Apparently the end battle is SRV and steve vai or satriani with the hands dubbed to the characters, if that makes sense.
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#35
Quote by -AliceCooper
im a catholic, and i defedently believe in god, even if he dosent exist, it is proven in studies that religous people on average do better in life because they have something to believe in....


Ignorance is bliss, and what can I say? There's a lot of happy, smiling people around here.
#36
Well, I always wanted to know the full story behind Crossroads....never really looked it up. Very nice story. And everybody just chill with the whole religion thing. Personally I think that any religion is just a moral code to help people become good people. But I think it is perfectly fine for a person to attain this without the aid from anyone's God. I don't need help to be nice, happy, or to accept the concept of death.
#37
Robert was not Howlin' wolf he wasn't called that Juss Robert HOwlin Wolf is another legend goo ol chester
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#38
Quote by rocknroll blues
You, sir, are a moron.

Mr. Zoso is entirely correct, and you are entirely wrong.


You know, you need to shut the hell up.

Almost EVERYTHING the threadstarter stated was completely correct, except for Johnson's stage name being "Howlin' Wolf".

As far as Robert Johnson's death, I don't believe that they ever officially claimed a cause of death.

Also, it is said you can sell your soul to the devil the same way Robert Johnson did by sitting at the railroads where "The Southern Crosses The Dog" as the 3 AM train passes by. The devil supposedly takes your guitar and tunes it for you, and peels your fingernails.

The same spot is also where WC Handy claims to have heard the first slide guitar playing, which was an old man who had missed his train playing an acoustic with the dull side of a knife.

Its interesting stuff.
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Last edited by fenderfreak101 at Jun 6, 2006,
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