Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Sunday Jazz – Madeleine Peyroux

 

The great Madeleine Peyroux has a new album in the shops now.

“Standing On The Rooftop” is weighted more towards her continually developing songwriting skills yet still has three of her typically inspirational cover versions.

Perhaps the most startling is her take on Robert Johnson’s “Love In Vain”, previously turned into a typical Stones R&B cover, however, Madeleine strips it back down to sound like it should totally tortured!

 

 

To buy the music of Madeleine Peyroux click HERE

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July 3, 2011 Posted by | Blues, Jazz Vocal, New Releases, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Changes

Every so often in life’s journey I get the feeling of “change ahead” sometimes these feeling result from other events good or bad that I experience, however, sometimes they have no apparant warning and recently I have felt some dark brooding clouds developing.

Fortunately we never really know what lies around the next corner for us but I do feel a “crossroads” approaching, will the right choice be made…only time will tell.

“Cross Road Blues” – Robert Johnson

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

Yeoo, standin’ at the crossroad, tried to flag a ride
Ooo eeee, I tried to flag a ride
Didn’t nobody seem to know me, babe, everybody pass me by

Standin’ at the crossroad, baby, risin’ sun goin’ down
Standin’ at the crossroad, baby, eee, eee, risin’ sun goin’ down
I believe to my soul, now, poor Bob is sinkin’ down

You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown
You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown
That I got the crossroad blues this mornin’, Lord, babe, I’m sinkin’ down

And I went to the crossroad, mama, I looked east and west
I went to the crossroad, baby, I looked east and west
Lord, I didn’t have no sweet woman, ooh well, babe, in my distress

In the meantime let’s enjoy and appreciate what we have.

“Changes” – David Bowie

Oh yeah
Mm
Still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets and
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
Turn and face the strange
(Ch-ch-Changes)
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
Turn and face the strange
(Ch-ch-Changes)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
So the days float through my eyes
But stil the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
Turn and face the strange
(Ch-ch-Changes)
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
Turn and face the stranger
(Ch-ch-Changes)
Where’s your shame
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace time

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Ah changes are taking the pace I’m going through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-Changes
Oh, look out you rock ‘n rollers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-Changes
Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time

To buy the music of Robert Johnson click HERE

To buy the music of David Bowie click HERE

February 20, 2011 Posted by | Blues, Old Music | , , | Leave a comment

Cross Road Blues

Any excuse to post one of the most iconic songs of all time, Robert Johnson’s oft covered “Cross Road Blues”

“Cross Road Blues” – Robert Johnson

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 now
save poor Bob if you please”
Yeeooo, standin at the crossroad
tried to flag a ride
ooo ooo eee
I tried to flag a ride
Didn’t nobody seem to know me babe
everybody pass me by
Standin at the crossroad babe
risin sun goin down
Standin at the crossroad babe
eee eee eee, risin sun goin down
I believe to my soul now,
Poor Bob is sinkin down

You can run, you can run
tell my friend Willie Brown
You can run, you can run
tell my friend Willie Brown
(th)’at I got the croosroad blues this mornin Lord
babe, I’m sinkin down

And I went to the crossroad momma
I looked east and west
I went to the crossroad baby
I looked east and west
Lord, I didn’t have no sweet woman
ooh-well babe, in my distress

To buy the music of Robert Johnson click HERE

March 23, 2010 Posted by | Blues, Old Music, Video | , , | 2 Comments

Me And The Devil

“Me And The Devil” – Tony McPhee & Friends

“Me And The Devil” – Cowboy Junkies

Early this mornin’, when you knocked upon my door
Early this mornin’, ooh, when you knocked upon my door
And I said, “Hello, Satan, I believe it’s time to go”

Me and the devil, was walkin’ side by side
Me and the devil, ooh, was walkin’ side by side
And I’m goin’ to beat my woman, until I get satisfied

She say you don’t see why, that you will dog me ’round
(spoken: Now, babe, you know you ain’t doin’ me right, don’cha)
She say you don’t see why, ooh, that you will dog me ’round
It must-a be that old evil spirit, so deep down in the ground

You may bury my body, down by the highway side
(spoken: Baby, I don’t care where you bury my body when I’m dead and gone)
You may bury my body, ooh, down by the highway side
So my old evil spirit, can catch a Greyhound bus and ride

According to a legend known to modern blues fans, Robert Johnson was a young black man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi. Branded with a burning desire to become a great blues musician, he was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation at midnight. There he was met by a large black man (the Devil) who took the guitar and tuned it. After tuning the guitar, the Devil played a few songs and then returned it to Johnson, giving him mastery of the guitar. This was, in effect, a deal with the Devil; in exchange Robert Johnson was able to create the blues for which he became famous.

This legend was developed over time, and has been chronicled by Gayle Dean Wardlow, Edward Komara and Elijah Wald, though Wald sees the legend as largely dating from Johnson’s rediscovery by white fans more than two decades after his death.

Folk tales of bargains with the Devil have long existed in African American and European traditions, and were adapted into literature by, amongst others, Washington Irving in “The Devil and Tom Walker” in 1824, and by Stephen Vincent Benet in “The Devil and Daniel Webster” in 1936. In the 1930s the folklorist Harry Middleton Hyatt recorded many tales of banjo players, fiddlers, card sharks, and dice sharks selling their souls at crossroads, along with guitarists and one accordionist.

The folklorist Alan Lomax considered that every African American secular musician was “in the opinion of both himself and his peers, a child of the Devil, a consequence of the black view of the European dance embrace as sinful in the extreme”.

Johnson seems to have claimed occasionally that he had sold his soul to the Devil, but it is not clear that he meant it seriously. However, these claims are strongly disputed in Tom Graves’ biography of Johnson, Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson, published in 2008. Son House once told the story to Pete Welding as an explanation of Johnson’s astonishingly rapid mastery of the guitar. Welding reported it as a serious belief in a widely read article in Down Beat in 1966. However, other interviewers failed to elicit any confirmation from House. Moreover, there were fully two years between House’s observation of Robert as first a novice and then a master.

Further details were absorbed from the imaginative retellings by Greil Marcus and Robert Palmer.  Most significantly, the detail was added that Johnson received his gift from a large black man at a crossroads. There is dispute as to how and when the crossroads detail was attached to the Robert Johnson story. All the published evidence, including a full chapter on the subject in the biography Crossroads by Tom Graves, suggests an origin in the story of Tommy Johnson. This story was collected from his musical associate Ishman Bracey and his elder brother Ledell in the 1960s. One version of Ledell Johnson’s account was published in 1971 David Evans‘s biography of Tommy, and was repeated in print in 1982 alongside Son House’s story in the widely read Searching for Robert Johnson.

In another version, Ledell placed the meeting not at a crossroads but in a graveyard. This resembles the story told to Steve LaVere that Ike Zinnerman of Hazelhurst, Mississippi learned to play the guitar at midnight while sitting on tombstones. Zinnerman is believed to have influenced the playing of the young Robert Johnson.

Recent research by blues scholar Bruce Conforth uncovered Ike Zinnerman’s daughter and the story becomes much clearer, including the fact that Johnson and Zinnerman did, in fact, practice in a graveyard at night (because it was quiet and no one would disturb them) but that it was not the Hazlehurst cemetery as had been believed. Johnson spent about a year living with, and learning from, Zinnerman, who ultimately accompanied Johnson back up to the Delta to look after him. Conforth’s article in Living Blues magazine goes into much greater detail.

The legendary “Crossroads” at Clarksdale, Mississippi.

The crossroads detail was widely believed to come from Johnson himself, probably because it appeared to explain the discrepancy in “Cross Road Blues“. Johnson’s high emotion and religious fervor are hard to explain as resulting from the mundane situation described, unsuccessful hitchhiking as night falls. The crossroads myth offers a simple literal explanation for both the religion and the anguish.

There are now tourist attractions claiming to be “The Crossroads” at Clarksdale and in Memphis. The film O Brother Where Art Thou? by the Coen Brothers incorporates the crossroads legend and a young African American blues guitarist named “Tommy Johnson”, with no other biographical similarity to the real Tommy Johnson or to Robert Johnson. In the CW TV series Supernatural, the season two episode “Crossroad Blues” was based on the legend.

Blues musician and historian Elijah Wald generally sees the Devil legend as applied to Johnson as overblown. “It is common for white scholars to remark on the dark passions and superstitious terrors expressed in lines that in a juke joint would have produced laughter,” he writes. While agreeing with other critics about the “tortured poetry” of “Hellhound on My Trail“, he sees, for example, “Me and the Devil Blues” as an entirely other matter,  “working within a well-established tradition of blues Devil songs, full of “tongue-in-cheek braggadocio

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Blues, Old Music, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

Robert Johnson

robert_johnson1

New plans have emerged to turn the birthplace of blues legend Robert Johnson into a museum.

More than seventy years after his death, Robert Johnson remains an alluring enigma. The blues guitarist found little success in his own lifetime, dying relatively unknown at the age of just 27.

However the singer’s music has enjoyed a curious life of its own. Almost immediately recognised as a performer of great power and style, Robert Johnson’s music would become the cornerstone of the blues.

Later covered by both The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, the blues singer’s material hints at the mysterious life he led. Frequent references to the Devil gave rise to the legend that he sold his soul.

In the song ‘Crossroads Blues’ Robert Johnson claims that he went down to the crossroads at midnight, selling his soul in exchange for the ability to play guitar. The blues guitarist later died young, either re-claimed by the Devil or poisoned by a jealous husband whose spouse he had seduced.

Now the singer’s birthplace is to be turned into a museum. Robert Johnson was born in 1911 in a well-crafted home built by his stepfather in the Mississippi town of Hazlehurst. That house is now dilapidated, but could be set to be restored in the form of a museum to the singer’s life.

“It’s amazing that after all these years, people still talk about Robert Johnson on the level that they do,” said the bluesman’s grandson, Steven Johnson to Associated Press.

Grammy-winning pianist George Winston is set to headline a benefit concert for the museum. “Everything with Robert is mysterious, but the more we can demystify, we can get down to the truth,” said Winston.

“He was an inspired musician. He took a quantum leap.”

 

Source www.clashmusic.com

Here is perhaps his most famous song

“Cross Road Blues” – Robert Johnson

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

Yeoo, standin’ at the crossroad, tried to flag a ride
Ooo eeee, I tried to flag a ride
Didn’t nobody seem to know me, babe, everybody pass me by

Standin’ at the crossroad, baby, risin’ sun goin’ down
Standin’ at the crossroad, baby, eee, eee, risin’ sun goin’ down
I believe to my soul, now, poor Bob is sinkin’ down

You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown
You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown
That I got the crossroad blues this mornin’, Lord, babe, I’m sinkin’ down

And I went to the crossroad, mama, I looked east and west
I went to the crossroad, baby, I looked east and west
Lord, I didn’t have no sweet woman, ooh well, babe, in my distress

king-of-the-delta-blues-singers

robert_johnson2

November 18, 2009 Posted by | Blues, New News, Old Music | | Leave a comment

Robert Johnson Follow Up

robert-johnson

Given the big interest in my recent post regarding the long lost third photo here now is the long lost MTV Video!

Again via The Word

November 20, 2008 Posted by | Video | | Leave a comment

Robert Johnson – The Disputed Third Photo

JohnsonFigureA.jpg

Forensic analysis revealed remarkable similarities between a confirmed photo of Robert Johnson and Zeke Schein’s controversial recent discovery.

In the November issue of Vanity Fair, I write about a New York-based guitar salesman named Steven “Zeke” Schein who purchased a photo on eBay that, he is convinced, depicts the blues legend and guitar virtuoso Robert Johnson (“Searching for Robert Johnson”). Even if you’re not an avid fan of the blues, you’ve probably heard of the Johnson crossroads myth (where he supposedly sold his soul to devil for supernatural talent) or read that there are only two known photos of Johnson that have ever been seen by the public: a photo-booth self-portrait which depicts the bluesman with a cigarette cantilevered out of his mouth and a portrait of him in a hat and pin-striped suit taken by the Hooks Bros. studio in Memphis. An artist’s rendering of that first image—minus the politically incorrect cigarette—was used for a U.S. postage stamp back in the 90s. The latter photo appeared on the cover of Columbia Records’ Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings, a two-CD boxed set of Johnson’s work that went on to sell more than 1 million copies. (A Johnson researcher named Mack McCormick reportedly is in possession of a third known photo of Johnson, although it’s current whereabouts are in question.)

My story details Zeke’s attempts to determine if his photo, which bears no date stamp or provenance of any sort, is authentic. The results of a forensic analysis, publicly documented here for the first time, may help provide the answer.

JohnsonFigureB.jpgIf you’ve read the story, then you know that in the summer of 2007, John Kitchens, who represents the Johnson estate, submitted Zeke’s photo to Lois Gibson, a forensic artist who works out of the Houston Police Department, and is a graduate of the F.B.I. Academy Forensic Artist Course. Kitchens first heard of Gibson when the media carried reports that she’d determined the identity of the sailor kissing the nurse in Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous Life-magazine photo of Times Square on the day World War II ended. But Gibson has also been featured in the 2005 and 2008 Editions of The Guinness Book of World Records as “The World’s Most Successful Forensic Artist” At last count, her sketches and facial reconstructions have helped catch more than 1,144 criminals. (Last year, Gibson published a manual called Forensic Art Essentials designed to aid other forensic artists in their work.)

After comparing Schein’s photo to the two known photos of Robert Johnson, Gibson produced a startling analysis. As she wrote in her report to Kitchens: “My only problem with this determination is the lack of certainty about the date of the questioned photo.” But, she continued, if Schein’s photo “was taken about the same time as, or a little earlier than,” the photo-booth self-portrait, “it appears the individual in [Schein’s photo] is Robert Johnson. All the features are consistent if not identical.” She added: “The only differences are due to the different angle of the camera on the face and/or the lighting.”

JohnsonFigureC.jpgSince my story and Zeke’s photo were published, there’s been quite a bit of discourse about the image, particularly online, and in the interest of furthering that discussion I asked Gibson and the Johnson Estate, which had commissioned her report, if it would be possible to share the forensic artist’s analysis in a more detailed fashion. They agreed, so here are some excerpts from Gibson’s report and from recent e-mails that she sent me explaining her analysis.

For starters, take a look at Figure A. The left photo is the Hooks Bros. portrait. The right photo is Schein’s eBay find and, according to Gibson’s report to John Kitchens, the horizontal black lines drawn between corresponding facial features on the two photos “show almost identical feature placement.”

Now, look at Figure B. See the similar rectangular spaces Gibson has marked off on each man’s forehead? Each is what Gibson describes as a “square bony eminence.” By e-mail, Gibson described these corresponding raised areas as “extraordinary” because they appear identical, and because they are fairly unusual facial characteristics. “I cannot remember seeing anyone, alive or from a skull, where they had a square eminence like this in that area of their skull,” she wrote.

JohnsonFigureD.jpgIn Figure C, Gibson superimposed a portion of the right face of Schein’s photo onto the photo-booth self-portrait. In the report she submitted to Kitchens, she wrote that the result “shows an almost perfect fit,” adding that “only the eye position is drastically different as would be expected in two different photos.”

Finally, in Figure D, Gibson superimposed Schein’s photo over the Hooks Bros. portrait with eerie results. In her report to Kitchens, she explained that because the subject of Schein’s photo is standing at an angle, it was not possible to line up the photos “perfectly,” and, yet, she added, “the features on the vertical plane line up as exactly as possible,” even though the subject of Schein’s photo has “slightly different lip positioning.”

I know that Zeke has not given up trying to determine definitively that the long-fingered man in his photo is Robert Johnson, but until that day comes, Gibson’s analysis makes a compelling case.

Read “Searching for Robert Johnson” by Frank DiGiacomo (November 2008)

Zeke Schein photograph © 2007 Claud Johnson. Hooks Bros. portrait © 1989 Delta Haze Corporation. Photo booth self-portrait from the Granger Collection, New York.

From www.vanityfair.com

king-of-the-delta-blues-singers

Cross Road Blues – Robert Johnson (MP3)

 

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Old Music, Uncategorized, Video | , | 6 Comments

Tell Tale Signs – Bob Dylan

Tell Tale Signs

Tell Tale Signs

My copy of “Tell Tale Signs” arrived in the mail this morning, I ordered the 2CD version as it was easy for me to resist paying £80+ for the “limited edition” 3CD set.

It must be an expensive hobby being an Dylan completist as this release alone arrives in 1CD, 2CD, 3CD and 4LP formats!

I will give it some listening over the next couple of days, however, for now here is Dylan’s cover of Robert Johnson’s “32-20 Blues” which was recorded for but not used on the “World Gone Wrong” album.

Dylan’s book “Chronicles – Volume One” highlights the huge impact Johnson had on the young Dylan when he started writing songs. This is the first official release of Dylan singng Johnson.

“32-20 Blues” – Bob Dylan

October 6, 2008 Posted by | Blues, Old Music | , | 1 Comment

   

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