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I think American children ought to be taught about roots music, just like they're taught about Thomas Jefferson or Mark Twain - Pete Wernick

Author Topic: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick  (Read 10789 times)

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Offline Blues Vintage

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2022, 02:54:47 PM »
It points to a Walmart.

Offline Stuart

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2022, 03:04:31 PM »
The site of the latest border dispute between Amazon and Starbucks

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2022, 03:45:17 PM »
I'm curious, what do those of you who eagerly await this book hope or expect to find in it?

Offline Stuart

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2022, 04:05:59 PM »
Hi John:

I wouldn't say I'm eagerly awaiting the book, but I'll be interested in seeing what John Troutman has done with Mack's material and what he has to say. As I mentioned, I've met John Troutman and corresponded with him. He's a solid scholar and historian. Hopefully he'll give Mack's material and RJ a fair shake from both a musician's and a historian's perspective and skill set.

Offline jpeters609

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2022, 06:22:21 PM »
I really hope the book comes out. Re. the topographic map on the book cover, any theories as to what that overlaid little arrow is pointing at? I compared it with Google Maps but couldn't pin the exact area down. I believe the town to the bottom right is Greenwood.

I have a suspicion that the cover they're showing now is just a placeholder, and the real cover will be revealed closer to the release date of the book. It's just a guess. But it seems to me that a photo (of some kind) would be a more likely cover, and I'm surmising that they just don't want to spill the beans yet.
Jeff

Offline Rivers

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2022, 09:36:34 PM »
I'm curious, what do those of you who eagerly await this book hope or expect to find in it?

I take the 5th, your honor. History perhaps? More than I knew last week?

Offline Blues Vintage

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2022, 06:16:25 AM »
I wasn't even joking (maybe just a little). There is a walmart at approximately that spot, to the left of the Museum of the Mississippi Delta in Greenwood.

What hope to find in the book? Just new information about Robert Johnson and the blues in general.
From what I've heard and read it is THE manuscript blues scholars and aficionados are waiting for. Let's hope it can live up to it's expectations.
At the same time I know (members of this site know) the Robert Johnson/Crossroads story is overhyped.
There were so many great musicians from that era, and he seems to be the only (pre-war) blues player people know about. Which is irritating.
Maybe I'm not so excited about this book as I once was.


Excerpt from Blues Unlimited 117, Jan/Feb, 1976

As far back as 1967 it was obvious that the Texas work was beset with too many delays. I decided then to concentrate on field research outside of Texas and in time this began to focus on the outstanding mystery of Robert Johnson.

Very slowly and gradually a few breakthroughs were made. Each one stands amid dozens of false starts and dead ends, but during the 1970-73 period I located former neighbors and friends who had known him as a youth. I also traced his children, two half-sisters, a widow, and women who had known him closely if briefly.

In each case where a major relative was located, I made a share-of-earnings agreement with the individual in return for the information and personal reminiscences they could provide for this biography.

The work involved travel to Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, Maryland, and other places where the people of Mississippi have scattered. These travels produced photographs of Robert Johnson, his family, as well as related documents and memorabilia.

It has also produced two concise, confirmed eye witness accounts of his murder.

This material is now a 12 chapter manuscript of 150,000 words undergoing final editing. It has an unusual narrative structure becoming a kind of detective story as it relates the quest and moves, step-by-step, through the five year search.

The book is also a tribute to those who preceded me, to the record collectors who guessed at clues I was sometimes in a position to follow up, and to other researchers whose published interviews made it possible for something fresh to be uncovered. It has been a collaborative process.

This is not a definitive book on Robert Johnson. I doubt if there ever will be such a thing. Let's just say that it answers a lot of the questions we've long been asking and puts him more fully in the context of his time and style of life. The final mystery of his incredible passion remains.

When it appears, please look upon it as a piece of work which was inspired by certain eloquent passages written about the mystery of Robert Johnson and by those blue air letter sheets which have been coming to me from a lot of people for a lot of years. I thank you for that inspiration.

Cordially, and with thanks to Blues Unlimited for carrying this message.
Mack McCormick
9023 Autauga
Houston
Texas, 77055
USA
October 28, 1975

Offline jostber

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #22 on: December 25, 2022, 02:20:37 AM »
This book is now coming out on April 4, 2023. Description of the book:

The drama of In Cold Blood meets the stylings of a Coen brothers film in this long-lost manuscript from musicologist Robert "Mack" McCormick, whose research on blues icon Robert Johnson's mysterious life and death became as much of a myth as the musician himself

When blues master Robert Johnson's little-known recordings were rereleased to great fanfare in the 1960s, little was known about his life, giving rise to legends that he gained success by selling his soul to the devil. Biography of a Phantom: A Robert Johnson Blues Odyssey is musicologist Mack McCormick's all-consuming search, from the late 1960s until McCormick's death in 2015, to uncover Johnson's life story. McCormick spent decades reconstructing Johnson's mysterious life and developing theories about his untimely death at the age of 27, but never made public his discoveries. Biography of a Phantom publishes his compelling work for the first time, including 40 unseen black-and-white photographs documenting his search.

While knocking on doors and sleuthing for Johnson's loved ones and friends, McCormick documents a Mississippi landscape ravaged by the racism of paternalistic white landowners and county sheriffs. An editor's preface and afterword from Smithsonian curator John W. Troutman provides context as well as troubling details about McCormick's own impact on Johnson's family and illuminates through McCormick's archive the complex legacy of white male enthusiasts assuming authority over Black people's stories and the history of the blues.

While Johnson died before achieving widespread recognition, his music took on a life of its own and inspired future generations. Biography of a Phantom, filled with lush descriptive fieldwork and photographs, is an important historical object that deepens the understanding of a stellar musician.


http://www.randomhousebooks.com/books/718575/

Offline Vermonter

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2023, 09:54:25 AM »
The book is now listed on Amazon for pre-order. Probably someone has already noted this.


Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2023, 08:28:30 AM »
No new photos of Robert...
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2023, 10:41:32 AM »
Yes. I believe they were not published based on an ethical issue with Annye Anderson, as the interviews with Carrie Thompson were also excluded as stated in the intro. Interesting so far none the less.
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline Stuart

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #27 on: April 01, 2023, 10:51:00 AM »
I did a search, but nothing came up for Brother Robert, so I'm posting these links here:

https://www.npr.org/2020/12/29/950794131/brother-robert-reveals-true-story-of-growing-up-with-blues-legend-robert-johnson



Something to do until Mack's book is released on Tuesday--Then I will be camping out by the mailbox in anticipation... ;)

Offline Blues Vintage

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #28 on: April 01, 2023, 03:16:11 PM »
Yes. I believe they were not published based on an ethical issue with Annye Anderson, as the interviews with Carrie Thompson were also excluded as stated in the intro. Interesting so far none the less.

I'm sick and tired of this ongoing legislation. Mack and Stephen both passed away and still we're dealing this kind of crap. Ridiculous.

Offline Blues Vintage

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Re: The Robert Johnson "Biography of a phantom" by Mack Mccormick
« Reply #29 on: April 01, 2023, 03:31:08 PM »

The 4th Robert Johnson Photo - Bad News


 


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