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...there was something about this guy - his singing, with all this mumbling and stuff going on, and his playing - it put something into me, man. I said "This is what I'm gonna do" - Hubert Sumlin, on hearing a warped Charlie Patton record he had found in a trash can

Author Topic: Ry Cooder on Blind Willie Johnson and Why Robert Johnson Faced the Wall  (Read 1775 times)

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Offline JasO

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This is my first time day on this site, and I really like what I see, as I've loved blues music ever since I was a kid. During my 20 years as a staff editor for Guitar Player magazine, I was lucky to interview many of the original bluesmen as well as modern bluesmen and rock musicians who cover their songs. It's been an interesting journey! I've recently been sharing a lot of my research on my new website at http://jasobrecht.com/

One interview that always stood out to me was a conversation with Ry Cooder where he was talking about Blind Willie Johnson and then suddenly shifted gears to Robert Johnson.

The liner notes for Columbia's first Robert Johnson LP, 1961's "King of the Delta Blues Singers," provided one of the enduring images of the mysterious bluesman when producer Don Law was quoted as saying: ?Embarrassed and suffering from a bad case of stage fright, Johnson turned his face to the wall, his back to the Mexican musicians. Eventually he calmed down sufficiently to play, but he never faced his audience.? Cooder up-ends this notion. His view? Robert Johnson faced the wall because he intuitively understood the acoustic principle of "corner loading." Anyway, I thought some of you may enjoy reading the whole conversation, which also touches on Tampa Red, Blind Blake, Sleepy John Estes, and others. You can read it here: http://jasobrecht.com/ry-cooder-%e2%80%93-talking-country-blues-and-gospel/

Offline Rivers

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Re: Ry Cooder on Blind Willie Johnson and Why Robert Johnson Faced the Wall
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2010, 07:53:15 PM »
Welcome Jas, great to see you posting on the board and that's an excellent interview with Ryland.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 07:55:03 PM by Rivers »

Offline eric

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Re: Ry Cooder on Blind Willie Johnson and Why Robert Johnson Faced the Wall
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2010, 09:06:28 PM »
Jas,

Welcome.
--
Eric

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Ry Cooder on Blind Willie Johnson and Why Robert Johnson Faced the Wall
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2010, 11:30:18 PM »
Welcome indeed. Personally I've become "addicted" to your website.  :)

We can but hope that you'll find the time to contribute to past topics and current discussions here.

Offline Gumbo

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What a great interview. So much food for thought.

Does anyone know if there is a good set of the Norfolk Jubilee Quartette available anywhere?

Offline dj

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Does anyone know if there is a good set of the Norfolk Jubilee Quartette available anywhere?

There's 6 volumes of the Norfolk Jazz and Jubilee Quartettes (essentially the same group recording different material) plus some stray tracks on compilations on the Document label.

Offline Gumbo

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thanks, dj

I don't suppose you or anyone could recommend one with decent sound to get started on? that track linked in the article sounded great but was painfully noisy.

Offline Bunker Hill

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I don't suppose you or anyone could recommend one with decent sound to get started on? that track linked in the article sounded great but was painfully noisy.
I appear to have this set of CDs but given the recordings were made 1921-23 I reckon the "decent sound" is highly unlikely. I'll give them a quick skip through.

Offline Gumbo

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thanks, BH.

I found the last two on the web. They sound pretty good (in both senses).

 


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