March 31, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 174 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, March 31st, (1:00-2:30 pm)

Our theme this week the origins of Robert Johnson. There’s a powerful mythology around the figure of Robert Johnson, way out of proportion to his contemporary importance when he was alive. We’ve never devoted much time to Robert Johnson’s music on The Blues & Rhythm Show, but this week we are looking at the sources of his songs, guided by Elijah Wald’s book Escaping the Delta and a CD compilation he edited for the Yazoo label, a CD titled Back to the Cross-Roads. A large part of the myth of Robert Johnson rests on the idea that his songs were not only unique but were an expression of his tormented psyche. Not given much consideration was the idea that Johnson was developing songs from models that were available to him from popular blues artists like Leroy Carr, Kokomo Arnold or Lonnie Johnson, something which Wald demonstrated in considerable detail in his book. And, while Robert Johnson revealed certain preoccupations in his songwriting, they were not in any way outside of blues convention As the title of Wald’s book suggests, Johnson’s ambitions were larger than the Delta region he emerged from and, while his music was an anticipation of the later Mississippi-in-Chicago blues and the beat of rock and roll, Wald wondered if his imagination might not have taken him in a quite different direction.

On the Show:

Michael Jerome Browne – Steve Earle – Johnnie Temple – Robert Johnson – Leroy Carr – Kokomo Arnold – Scrapper Blackwell – Rev. E.W. Clayborn, The Guitar Evangelist – Tampa Red – Mississippi Sheiks – and others

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.msu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until April 27th.

Contact Us

To reach us with comments or queries, write us at sweartotellthetruth@gmail.com.

You can also follow the program at sweartotellthetruth@nosignifying on Twitter.

Next week (April 7th)

Can’t tell you right now.

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