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Recent Posts

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31
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by Rivers on July 14, 2019, 05:59:39 PM »
Riding the blinds, hoboeing around are not really freedom of movement. True freedom of movement is upward mobility based on talent and intellect, I would suggest. But this is America, where it's seen as romantic to live low to the ground, but not so much if it's you that has to do it.
32
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by Gilgamesh on July 14, 2019, 05:49:34 PM »
Speaking of context, one thing that was lacking was the racial climate RJ operated in. This is mentioned in passing but considering RJ's constant ramblings, particularly in Mississippi in the 20's and 30's, I felt more context on the Jim Crow era should have been included. This is something of a trend in blues writing, a whitewashing of history that is far too common.


I really don't get the impression that people today understand the depth of Jim Crow laws and the extent of segregation in RJ's lifetime. They know about the lynchings, but that's about it. This is hugely important context to the history of the blues. The authors state that Dallas was extremely racist for making RJ take the freight elevator at the Brunswick building, but this was probably one of the more benign aspects of Jim Crow that he had to face. And what went on in Dallas went on in every other city; it's unfair to single out Dallas as somehow unique.

It's remarkable that people like RJ and Shines could apparently have such freedom of movement in that climate.
33
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by Gilgamesh on July 14, 2019, 05:29:09 PM »
Hi all,
I guess I value accuracy of musical analysis more (which figures).  The commercially created mythology around Robert Johnson has been easy enough to ignore.  The lives of musicians are like anyone else's lives--they are lives.  That's why I don't get very excited about documentation of life events, birth certificates, marriage licenses, et al.  That is certainly just my own orientation, though, since many people find such things fascinating.
All best,
Johnm

I think people want to find something remarkable in the documentation that can help explain an artist's imagination. Sometimes it does, but most of the time, the life activities of great artists are much the same as anyone else's. The facts of RJ's life are the same dull, humdrum facts you find with many people growing up poor in the South. Millions had similar experiences. What made RJ stand out was his extraordinary imagination, the development of which is impervious to documentation. 
34
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by Gilgamesh on July 14, 2019, 05:21:27 PM »
Quote from: Waxwing
Speaking of "performance" as an aspect of performing, as it were. I think that is RJ's primary attribute. His guitar is not really all that mind bending, I've heard his voice described as that of a squirrel, but he really "brings it" in the moment. Rarely do I hear "performance" spoken about as an aspect of playing music, on this board or others. Arranging, playing clean, tone, clear voice, or raspy voice. These and other things are technical qualities, which make them easy to define and often discussed. But the quality of focusing your entire being into the moment of performing, in a way that compels engagement by the observer, is a far more etherial aspect, difficult to talk about, or even comprehend for many. Possibly, the only thing that really counts to most of the audience.

RJ had it! He brought it in both of his sessions. You feel it when you hear it.


Charisma, in other words. Excellent point. So many musicians complain that their records are dull simulations of their live performances. I don't think RJ would have said that. There are some ordinary moments across the 29 sides, but for the most part, RJ's records project a confident, charismatic performer.
35
Country Blues Lyrics / Re: Barbecue Bob Lyrics
« Last post by LeftyStrat on July 14, 2019, 04:49:01 PM »
Thank you, John...for your response.  I may have done so long ago, but if not I'd like to do so again.   

I joke in my posts here about not daring to say what I hear is right, because I know my ears are nowhere near as good as the wonderful folks here, you included.   Heck, the doctor told me recently that a hearing aid might be best to prevent further hearing loss. 

I reckon what I mean is that I'm awfully glad to contribute to this and any other threads that I can, and I am humbled that my contributions are so graciously accepted.

Thanks again, so much!
36
Weenie Campbell Main Forum / Re: Quote Drive 2019
« Last post by Rivers on July 14, 2019, 04:20:54 PM »
Ten thousand river commissions, with the mines of the world at their back, cannot tame that lawless stream, cannot curb it or define it, cannot say to it 'Go here,' or Go there, and make it obey; cannot save a shore which it has sentenced; cannot bar its path with an obstruction which it will not tear down, dance over, and laugh at - Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
37
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by orvillej on July 14, 2019, 12:08:34 PM »
I read the book. I found it interesting and appreciate the years of work and research Gayle and Bruce put into writing it and finally getting it published. I caught a few of the mistakes, some of which just seem like typos, and in reading this thread I see more that have been noticed by the erudite members here. While the book has its shortcomings, I found the detailed look at the movements and relationships of RJ to be informative and since I've never been interested in the devil at the X-roads BS, I was glad they depicted him as a person and a musician and gave short shrift to that stuff. I think overall it's an important addition to the blues scholarship that we have.
38
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by bnemerov on July 14, 2019, 10:48:25 AM »
John,
Amen.
best,
Bruce
39
Thanks Lindy and all for recommending "Control of Nature" and McPhee, never heard of him and this stuff and his writing is right up my alley.  Actually, I've read his stuff in the New Yorker... And timely, I just got through with his Mississippi river piece and understand perfectly the problems and danger they are now facing.  Let's hope the control structure at old river holds.

I'm on the 2nd story now about Vestmannaeyjar, which I visited a few years ago while in Iceland -- I knew about the 1973 volcano and toured the volcanic flow - but had no idea what the island went through - absolutely fascinating.  It's nice to have google maps to zoom right down and see for yourself!
40
Country Blues Lyrics / Re: Barbecue Bob Lyrics
« Last post by Johnm on July 14, 2019, 08:29:49 AM »
Thanks very much for those suggestions, LeftyStrat, I re-listened to the songs, and in every instance I preferred what you heard to what I had transcribed.  I've made the changes, and the lyrics make more sense now.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
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