Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Story Goes...

AM relies a lot on that instrumental moment when rock 'n' roll became rock; namely with the release of "Satisfaction" in June 1965, though certainly the history of our music has roots that go back much further, into the 40s or even the 20s. AM's focus on rock doesn't discount or ignore Sun Records or Robert Johnson or the Bristol Sessions of 1927 (the Genesis of country music), yet we've never really delved into the timeline that brought on rock's golden era from 1967 through the mid-70s. While this series will focus on rock's evolution over time, there are indeed moments that stand out in its early history. While the release in June 1967 marks the single most important time for rock music, namely, the release of Sgt. Pepper by The Beatles, by then we were fully immersed in the genre, and while the LP is the Huck Finn of modern music, like a Scooby Doo flashback, there were indeed far more important events that led up the Pepper.

And so, here is both the mythology, buy into it if you will, and also the first important moment in rock's storied history:

Story goes, Delta bluesman Son House, just couldn't stand it no more. Robert Johnson plain couldn't play; like he was guttin' a cat. Down in Yazoo City folks'd say, "Why don’t you all go in there and make that boy put that thing down. He’s runnin’ us crazy!"  And he chased young Robert away. Now young Rob was all 'bout three things: guitars, hooch and womens. so picture him down at the crossroads outside-a Rosedale, dark and lonesome, dog howlin' in a ditch 'longside the road. He be headin' no doubt to Gunnison, knows people, mindin' his own, when a grifter, sittin' on a log off the side of the road says, "You're late, Robert Johnson." Robert Johnson drops to his knees and says, "Maybe not."

The man stands up, tall as tall and black as forever, says, "Stand up, Robert Johnson. You want to play that guitar like you like all the rest, 'cept worst. You heard em: 'runnin' us crazy,' or or you wanna play that guitar like nobuddy ever played before? Make a sound nobuddy ever heard before? You want to be the King of the Delta Blues and have all the whiskey and women you want?"

"That's a lot of whiskey and women, Devil-Man." Devil played him some guitar like Robert don’t never hear and he say, "I got to have that sound, Devil-Man. That sound is mine. Where do I sign?" Sold his soul right on the spot.  The man says, "You ain’t got a pencil, Robert Johnson. Your word is good enough - But you better be prepared. There are consequences." Devil said, "My left hand will be forever wrapped around your soul, and your music will possess all who hear it. That's what's gonto happen. That's what you better be prepared for. Your soul will belong to me." Devil said, "This ain't just any crossroads. I put this "X" here for a reason, and I been waiting on you." But Robert, he wernt listening.

When he come back to Yazoo, Willie Brown was playin', and Robert, he says, "Can I hit a lick or two?" but Son House, he says, "Don't come back with that, Robert Johnson. You know that folks don’t all want to hear that racket."  Now young Robert he says, "Let them say what they want.  I want you to see what I learnt," and when he finished all their mouths were standing open.

 - That was the day rock 'n' roll began. Though there is no definitive date involved, let's call it 1931. Son House moved to Rosedale in 1929, so it could be earlier, but all accounts point to House being well established when he told Robert Johnson that he was runnin' everyone crazy.

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