Robert Johnson, the legend who sold his soul to the Devil

According to legend, Mississippian Robert Lorey Johnson, then 19 years old, struck a pact with the Devil. An African American Doctor Faust who bought his soul for the sake of becoming a world-class musician rather than to become omniscient.

Robert Johnson, who was born in Hazlehurst in 1911, became particularly interested in music because of his older brother. But this is insufficient to qualify him as a genius. His mother had him out of wedlock when her husband left her for another woman, and Robert eventually relocated to Memphis (the future home of Elvis Presley and the location of Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder), where he married Virginia Travis in 1929. His brief life is still a mystery. After his wife passed away in 1930, the young man inexplicably vanished, only to return the following year with his second wife, Calletta Craft. At the intersection of two dark streets, Robert encountered a musician who is still unknown today during one of his many journeys.

People began to believe Ike was an agent of the Devil (rather than the Devil himself) as rumors continued to spread. His advice to the unskilled Mississippian guitarist who was just starting out was probably to place his bets on such legends. His guiding principle seems to be, “For better or for worse, as long as we talk about it.”

All things considered, Robert seems odd. The young man decided to pursue his career once more and went to Son House, who still recalled how silly he sounded a year prior. However, in contrast to what was anticipated, the guitar’s sound was the best that could be heard. Johnson could now perform any style or genre, from polka to country, but he was at his best when playing the so-called Delta blues. He would even play with his back to the audience, according to several witnesses. Evidently, there would have been no other explanations for this characteristic if it were true that the Devil does not want to be stared in the face.

The only 29 known recordings, all of which were totally sung and played by Robert himself, were made between 1936 and 1937, making him one of the most important blues musicians of the 20th century. Additionally, there is a mystery surrounding these recordings’ 20% faster song execution pace, which is crucial to the tonality because if it were true, the voice would not be as sharp as it is and would instead conform to the blues standard.

His style of playing the guitar was contemporary and diverse for the time, with jazz influences from many American regions and defined by fingerpicking. Some of his poems, in keeping with the topics of the major artistic-philosophical movement of the nineteenth century, dealt with the mystery of the contract with the Devil. These lyrics invoked blues poetics and allowed him to be compared to romantic poets like Keats and Shelley. For instance, in Crossroad Blues, he turned to God and begged for compassion to save him from the desperate situation he was in because no one else wanted to help him.

However, the musician was given the tab to pay for a life that was both interesting and doomed on August 13, 1938 (and not just for the purported sale of his soul). He and David Honeyboy Edwards were engaged at the Three Forks, where he argued with the owner after having an affair with the man’s wife. The woman put up with the treachery until their behavior became too overt and embarrassing. During a break, the bartender presented his employee an uncorked bottle of whiskey, and Sonny Boy specifically advises him not to drink because of this. Robert disregarded this advice and instead took the next bottle, which was also open, and drank it out of frustration. It doesn’t take long to see that the whiskey included.

Johnson reportedly told his mother, “I don’t want it anymore, I don’t want to have any more of it: now I’m your son, mum, and of the Lord,” before handing her the guitar during the two days before his death. Oh, Lord, let there be no more of the devil. And he would travel with the explanation for the myth surrounding his mysterious skill.

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