collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

If you want to learn how to make songs yourself, you take your guitar and you go to where the road crosses that way, where a crossroads is. Get there, be sure to get there just a little 'fore 12 that night so you know you'll be there. You have your guitar and be playing a piece there by yourself... A big black man will walk up there and take your guitar and he'll tune it. And then he'll play a piece and hand it back to you. That's the way I learned to play anything I want - Tommy Johnson, to his brother

Author Topic: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson  (Read 3300 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6929
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #30 on: June 13, 2019, 05:14:00 PM »
Perhaps the secret sauce is the natural integration of vocals and instrument, and the ability to sustain that to channel the art lurking beyond. That art certainly applies to Lemon, Patton, Booker White, Leadbelly and many others.

We're all at our best when we're both singing and playing well. Loud is good. It seems that those who can push vocals to the limit consistently while playing along often end up being the big stars. Robert Johnson fits that profile to a T, IMHO

And by the way I am very glad we can now discuss this without all that supernatural bullshit (too kind a word) distracting us from coming to a realistic appraisal. So thanks to Gayle Dean & Bruce. It's been a long time coming.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2019, 05:34:40 PM by Rivers »

Offline lindy

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 1059
  • I'm a llama!
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #31 on: June 13, 2019, 05:59:25 PM »
We're all accustomed to using the word/concept of "sound" as in the sentence, "Wow, no one in that band knew how to play an instrument, but they sure had a great sound." My reference point is the 1950s: during the early rock and roll era, producers figured out that if they could create a great "sound," teenagers would do whatever they could to get the 59 cents to buy a 45 rpm single.

Speculation time, folks: I can picture Robert Johnson spending a lot of time practicing and purposefully searching for a sound, and I can imagine his understanding of the importance of finding a good sound for commercial recording purposes. He certainly knew how to arrange songs to end at 2 minutes and 50 seconds.

Like I said, it's big-time speculation on my part, I never met the man. But I can envision Johnson understanding the importance of a great sound long before others caught on to the idea, and then practicing and refining until he achieved just the right mix of voice and straight-forward guitar playing based on records he had access to.

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6929
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #32 on: June 13, 2019, 08:17:13 PM »
I seriously doubt Robert Johnson himself was trying to do anything other than the best he could and thereby make a good living. That's all there is, and that's good enough for me.

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6929
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #33 on: June 13, 2019, 08:36:59 PM »
What you say rings true, Lindy, and it would also explain why he preferred to work solo.  Having another accompanist in there with him would have flattened out the musical impact of what he was communicating, and would have made the sound more generic.  Working strictly as a soloist, he was notably his own man, and his particular musical message could come across, loud and clear.

Obviously he would have had many opportunities to participate in combos, duos, trios. For unknown reasons he didn't want to go that way. Why that should be is speculation.

Offline Parlor Picker

  • Member
  • Posts: 1616
  • Aloha
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2019, 01:54:06 AM »
I seriously doubt Robert Johnson himself was trying to do anything other than the best he could and thereby make a good living. That's all there is, and that's good enough for me.

Exactly. A well-observed comment.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline Gilgamesh

  • Member
  • Posts: 74
  • Howdy!
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #35 on: June 17, 2019, 05:50:49 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. 

That's an extremely suspect figure in any context, but especially so for a book whose stated raison d'tre is the deflation of myths. Not a promising start.

I've long ago learned to dismiss ALL claims of sales as meaningless hype until actual sales figures from actual accounting ledgers (or other legit paperwork) can be examined by an outside source, i.e. an historian, not the company's PR department.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2019, 12:47:29 AM by Gilgamesh »

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2606
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #36 on: June 18, 2019, 11:22:29 AM »
In addition to merely being an error WRT the numbers, it's possible that Larry was joking (TIC) and the authors took him seriously.

Offline CF

  • Member
  • Posts: 877
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #37 on: June 20, 2019, 06:16:47 AM »
Bruce Conforth has said there are typos in the introduction that will be fixed for the 2nd edition
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline tmylet

  • Member
  • Posts: 17
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #38 on: June 21, 2019, 06:47:56 AM »
Great book and incredible research. The big take-away for me was that while there were lots of bluesman who played for dances, etc. that happened to be recorded, Robert Johnson was the first who really honed his music into songs to be recorded. It leaves me wondering if his playing in juke joints, corners, etc. were three minutes or longer like I assume all the others played.
Dr. Tommy

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6929
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #39 on: June 21, 2019, 01:20:18 PM »
Good question. I surmise he would be both spinning it out and also keeping it short. This was an educated guy who also liked to have a good time, after all. I have nothing to back that up, just a belief that he could easily walk and chew gum, format-wise.

Offline DavidCrosbie

  • Member
  • Posts: 147
  • Howdy!
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #40 on: June 22, 2019, 09:02:18 AM »
It leaves me wondering if his playing in juke joints, corners, etc. were three minutes or longer like I assume all the others played.

Conforth and Wardlow observe that (with one exception) whenever two takes of a song survive, they are identical in timing, text and arrangement.

For what it's worth, my guess is that he'd employ flexibility with the rest of his repertoire, but keep the recorded songs as they were on the discs. We hear that ? at least once ? he performed Terraplane Blues to prove that he was the man on the record. It's a fair guess that he did a three-minute version.

Offline Prof Scratchy

  • Member
  • Posts: 1594
  • Howdy!
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #41 on: June 22, 2019, 03:13:54 PM »


Conforth and Wardlow observe that (with one exception) whenever two takes of a song survive, they are identical in timing, text and arrangement.


The above does not apply to the two versions of Crossroads, nor to the two versions of Rambling On My Mind.




Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Offline harry

  • Member
  • Posts: 588
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #42 on: June 22, 2019, 03:20:27 PM »
Phonograph Blues too.

Offline daddystovepipe

  • Member
  • Posts: 275
    • daddystovepipe youtube
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #43 on: June 23, 2019, 03:26:31 PM »
I always wondered why Johnson played only one guitar solo (only Kind Hearted Woman has one)? 

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6929
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Reply #44 on: June 23, 2019, 05:06:56 PM »
I think we're still falling into the trap of discussing him like he was not just a regular musician, albeit a very good one. Everyone who plays changes their delivery to suit the venue, occasion, mood and audience. Why would Robert be any different?

The myth is hard to scrape off your shoe. He was a player with a streak of talent a mile wide, certainly. What he did while constrained to recording a three minute take is interesting, and not the be all and end all. As such it's pretty unimportant, IMNSHO

 


anything