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Author Topic: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson  (Read 2315 times)

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Offline harry

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Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« on: June 06, 2019, 08:20:24 AM »
Well the book is out now.

I haven't read it yet but Mack McCormick was involved in the project but probably didn't wanna share the 3rd authentic photo of Robert.

https://books.google.nl/books?id=58ttDwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=nl&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Offline Stuart

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Offline Rivers

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2019, 06:00:42 PM »
I'm reading it on Amazon preview, quite a lot is visible right now, so read what's there while it's still available. Overall impression is favorable, it's providing much context I did not have before.

Apart from a couple of minor flights of fancy at the beginning of chapters, of the "Robert gazed out at the endless fields of cotton..." variety, I have encountered nothing too annoying so far. I might actually buy this one.

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2019, 06:34:10 AM »
I might actually buy this one.
You really should, Rivers!

What Conforth and Wardlow set out to do is to investigate every reminiscence ever recorded of Robert Johnson. From this they come up with a detailed chronology in which all the familiar contradictions are plausibly explained as the result of faulty memory, exaggeration or simply being misled by Robert himself. Some of their judgements may prove faulty, but the overall account is persuasive and coherent.

They seem to have paid more attention than previous writers to Robert's half-sister Carrie. So they highlight his boyhood in Memphis and his continuing connection with his family there. From this perspective, Johnson was a city boy who discovered his rural Delta roots and hated everything in life there ? apart from a passionate devotion to whiskey, women and music. This in turn suggests why he poured his creativity into extending the rural musical tradition rather than embracing the Blues of the city. It then makes sense that he was virtually unknown outside his region before 1959.

If you really want to be sceptical, you might feel that they go beyond the evidence in their assessment of Ike Zimmerman's guitar skills or Robert's concern with voodoo. But at worst this may prove to be over-interpretation, not flight of fancy.

Even the opening chapter you object to seems to be firmly based on eyewitness accounts of Robert preparing to perform at one country juke and actually performing at another.


Offline Rivers

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2019, 06:53:35 AM »
Oh I don't object to anything. A bit of artistic license leavens what could have tended toward 'listiness'. I got a few chapters in before the preview ended and my impression was positive. I found myself trusting the writers as sincere and on the level.

Offline CF

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2019, 10:28:34 AM »
Thanks for the heads up on the Amazon preview, I liked what I read.

The intro says the Complete RJ sold 50 million copies?! That cant be right is it?
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Stuart

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2019, 11:27:15 AM »
The intro says the Complete RJ sold 50 million copies?! That can't be right is it?

I don't think so. A while back I recall reading that the Columbia set, "Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings," had sold 500,000 copies in all its various formats, including vinyl, but I don't know if that is accurate. Perhaps it was referring to the total sales of all the Columbia RJ releases in all formats over the years.

I would be interested to know how many RJ albums and songs have been sold worldwide in all formats, including downloads, just out of curiosity.

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2019, 12:09:12 PM »
The intro says the Complete RJ sold 50 million copies?! That cant be right is it?

There's a note with the source of this claim:

Quote
11 Lawrence Cohn, email to Bruce Conforth, January 4, 2016

Actually the claim is even stronger:

Quote
Sony expected the box set to sell no more than ten thousand copies over a five-year period. Immediately they were shocked. The set sold hundreds of thousands of copies in the first several weeks and today has sold more than fifty million copies in the United States alone.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2019, 12:16:53 PM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline Stuart

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2019, 02:27:17 PM »
Let's see--330 million people in the U.S. (not counting illegals), divided by 50 million box sets, equals one box set for every 6.6 Americans. Simply mind-boggling!

Sounds like we need to add a question to the upcoming U.S. census form.

Online Johnm

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2019, 02:31:36 PM »
Hi all,
It would be be interesting to know how many of the supposed fifty million copies of the set were never listened to, from beginning to end, even once.  I'm extremely dubious of the fifty million U.S. sales claim--one of every 6.5 or so Americans purchased the set?  I don't think so. 
All best,
Johnm

Offline CF

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2019, 02:43:40 PM »
It's true, I have had the experience several times in life of spotting the boxset on a random acquaintances' shelf and asking if they were fans and it's always just a curiosity buy. MANY people have this and no other 1920s-1930s Blues musician's music in their collection.

50 million sales is an exaggeration or a misprint, surely!
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Stuart

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2019, 02:56:57 PM »
I don't think so either, John. Thus the little bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. Perhaps the 500,000 figure I recall was for the first year. Since my initial post, I see it's been stated in numerous places as the figure for year one after its release.

Here's a link to NYT article I found:

https://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/26/arts/robert-johnson-once-largely-myth-now-a-hit.html

From what I read in the last 15 minutes or so, endorsements and promotion by some of the bigger names in the Rock world helped to boost sales, as did the press the box set received after its release.

Yeah, I agree. How many people actually listened to the set all the way through?? Like me, many of you in Weenie-Land probably recall trying to get friends to listen to the original versions of songs covered by popular groups, such as songs by RJ, Rev. Robert Wilkins, Skip James, Rev. Gary Davis, et al, only to find that it was a fool's errand in most cases.


Offline Rivers

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2019, 03:48:06 PM »
I bought the CD box set, first edition, when it came out. Is was a horrible screechy sonic mess to my ears, with liner notes to match. Then came a fixed, remastered version. Supposedly it was much better.

I did not buy the new improved version as the whole saga had gone beyond ridiculous at that point.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2019, 04:42:40 PM »
I picked up Vol. 1 sometime in the late 1960s and Vol. 2 when it came out a few years later. Immediately copied the LPs to cassette tapes so I wouldn't have to get up and turn the record over on my AR turntable. Lazy is as lazy does. Listened to the cassette tapes for decades. A few years after it came out I bought the Centennial Collection, made playlists to match the original LP songs and sequencing and burned them to CDs. That's what I listen to.

As for all the hype and nonsense, it was after his time and as far as I know, RJ never had a hand in it, so I ignore it.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2019, 05:20:01 PM »
Exactly. The hype is just noise that has zip to do with RJ. Which is what we've all been saying around here for years. I pray the new book will change the paradigm for good.

 


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