CROSSROADS

CROSSROADS

I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.
Down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.
Asked the Lord above for mercy, “Save me if you please.”

I went down to the crossroads, tried to flag a ride.
Down to the crossroads, tried to flag a ride.
Nobody seemed to know me, everybody passed me by.

Well I’m going down to Rosedale, take my rider by my side.
Going down to Rosedale, take my rider by my side.
You can still barrelhouse, baby, on the riverside.

Going down to Rosedale, take my rider by my side.
Going down to Rosedale, take my rider by my side.
You can still barrelhouse, baby, on the riverside.

You can run, you can run, tell my friend-boy, Willie Brown.
Run, you can run, tell my friend-boy, Willie Brown.
And I’m staying at the crossroads, believe I’m sinking down.

I went down to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
I went down to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above “Have mercy, save poor Bob, if you please.”

Mmmmm, standin’ at the crossroad, I tried to flag a ride
Standin’ at the crossroad, I tried to flag a ride
Didn’t nobody seem to know me, everybody pass me by

Mmm, the sun goin’ down, boy, dark gon’ catch me here
oooo, ooee, eee boy, dark gon’ catch me here
I haven’t got no lovin’ sweet woman that love and feel my care

You can run, you can run, tell my friend-boy, Willie Brown.
You can run, tell my friend-boy, Willie Brown.
Lord, that I’m standin’ at the crossroad, babe, I believe I’m sinking down.

(Robert Johnson)

crossroads 1

A crossroads metaphorically describes a point in life when we have to make an important decision, it is a turning point, a challenge. In folk mythology it is a gathering point for spirits and witches.

The intersection of rural roads is one of the few landmarks in the Mississippi Delta, a plain where there are various businesses called Crossroads. At a crossroads cars generally slow down or stop, so it is the best opportunity for a hitchhiker, but in this song Johnson describes his sorrow because he does not succeed in catching a ride before the sun sets. He is going to Rosedale, a Mississippi state town, an area where Johnson was playing.

According to a legend of the blues world, in that  city, Johnson would have made a deal with the devil, since he  wanted to become a great blues musician, but he could not play the guitar very well.  So, one day he was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad at midnight, where he met a large black man who took the guitar, tuned it, played a few songs and then returned it to him , giving him astonishing mastery of the instrument (a legend that mirrors Faust’s pact with the devil).

In this song, the narrator, who is deeply lonesome, kneels at the crossroads to ask God’s mercy. The line “the sun goin’ down now boy, dark gon’ catch me here” may be a reference to the “sundown laws” or curfew during racial segregation in the United States. Therefore Johnson may be expressing a real fear of being arrested for vagrancy charges or even lynched.
Besides expressing apprehension at being stranded at the arrival of darkness, he expresses his sadness at not having a “sweet woman” and asks to inform his friend Willie Brown ( a blues guitar player and vocalist) that he is ” sinkin’ down”.

English guitarist Eric Clapton with Cream popularized this song in the late 1960s, a period in which white artists imitated a romanticized version of the Delta bluesman: his itinerant lifestyle and mysterious legend seemed to portray the ideal rock star

 

Robert Leroy Johnson (1911-1938) was an American blues singer-songwriter and musician, whose singing, guitar skills, and song writing have influenced later generations of musicians. Little is known about his life, and this has given rise to much legend. One Faustian myth explains that he was a bad guitarist but  acquired an astonishingly rapid mastery of the guitar, because he sold his soul to the devil at a local crossroads of Mississippi highways
He died at age 27. There were rumours that he was stabbed, shot, or that the Devil came for him.
According to one theory, Johnson was murdered by a jealous husband. He was given a bottle of poisoned whiskey in a bar in a place called Three Forks, outside of Greenwood, Mississippi, His friend Williamson, who was with him, warned him not to drink from a bottle that he had not personally seen opened. Soon after he started feeling ill
A lot of music stars have died at that age 27, among them: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones) and Kurt Cobain.

Robert_Johnson

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