Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Hello Satan

I’m enjoying a Blues obsession at the moment - I’m currently working my way thru a 5-disc collection of Charley Patton recordings and enjoying it immensely. I was thinking about Robert Johnson earlier and the Faustian pact he made at the crossroads. It’s one of the great myths of 20th century music, even dyed in the wool atheists find it irresistible. Apparently it was Son House who first propagated the story of Johnson selling his soul to the Devil, although Johnson’s own music doesn’t shy away from it, with song titles like Hellhound on My Trail and Me and the Devil Blues which includes the famous line “And I said hello Satan I believe it's time to go” Interestingly the story of the infernal pact was attributed to an earlier blues musician named Tommy Johnson (no relation) who offered some advice to his brother: "If You want to play and make songs you take your guitar and go to where a crossroads is. A big black man will walk up there at the stroke of midnight and he’ll tune it” Somehow the story was later transferred to Robert Johnson. The Coen Brothers in their 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? returned the story to Tommy Johnson, the name of the young blues musician the three convicts pick up at a crossroads…

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