Down at the Crossroad with Robert Johnson

Robert JohnsonOn this day back in 1884, the only person to ever drop a nuclear bomb on a group of humans, Harry S. Truman was born. He did it twice, because that was all the bombs he had at the time. Anti-communist who conservatives still worship even though there aren’t any more communists, Friedrich Hayek was born in 1899. The great director Roberto Rossellini was born in 1906. And hugely successful writer who was in no way better than I am, Peter Benchley was born in 1940.

David Attenborough and Don Rickles are both 87 today. Now that’s an odd couple! Poet Gary Snyder is 83. Toni Tennille, who love has kept together with Daryl “The Captain” Dragon all these years, is 73. Speaking of pianists, the great Keith Jarrett is 68. Chris Frantz of Talking Heads is 62. Melissa Gilbert is 49. And hugely successful writer who is in distinct ways much better than I am, Naomi Klein is 43.

But some days are not even close, regardless of how much I admire Naomi Klein. The day belongs to the great Mississippi blues man Robert Johnson who was born on this day back in 1911. Other than the music, there is almost nothing that we know about the man. A big part of the problem is that Johnson was so influential during his brief career that there were more or less Robert Johnson Impersonators: people who would use his name and do his songs. So the widely believed date of his death (16 August 1938) may have been the death of one of their impersonators.

Regardless, we have a very good collection of songs (more than for most of the artists of that time). Here’s one of my favorites, “Come Home in My Kitchen”:

But you may prefer “Cross Road Blues,” which just about every rock musician worth his salt has covered:

Happy birthday Robert Johnson!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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