Moore:Music ®

Witch Cross • BC Sweet • Gonads • Christie

Tell me where did they lay you down?

Tell me where did they lay you down

Tell me where did they lay you down?

Two graves in Mississippi, and nobody knows,

 Tell me where did they lay you down?

– “Robert Johnson’s Tombstone, by Thunder

 

On our way from Clarksdale to Jackson, we went in search of the final resting place of perhaps the most legendary, and certainly the most mysterious of all the Delta bluesmen.  There were three sites of interest, though one is simply a memorial stone commemorating his life and work, and though it rests in a churchyard, it has never laid claim to being his final resting place.

Between the other two, however, there is some contention. We set off from the Crossroads memorial (where else?) and made our way down Highway 49 south to Greenwood. Outside of the town, on Money Road, there stands Little Zion Church.  At the Roadside there is a blues trail marker. The unassuming little wooden church has a graveyard to the left, and there towards the back under a tree was Robert Johnson’s Grave.

There was a small collection of ‘tribute’ surrounding the headstone, from beer bottles and whisky bottles (toasts, no doubt, drunk to his memory) to CD’s and guitar picks. We added our own, one of Miki’s leaflets and a photo of Christie.

Our next stop was Payne Chapel in Quito to the West. It was originally thought Johnson was buried here due to its proximity to the Juke joint behind Three Forks store where he was allegedly poisoned.  There is a small marker in the graveyard there, and we were quickly welcomed by the guy ‘in charge’ of the graveyard who managed to finagle a couple of dollars out of us towards graveyard upkeep. Nice one!  In a curious coincidence, his brother is the Pastor at Little Zion church. Looks like a family business…..

Our third and final stop on the Robert Johnson trail was the marker erected in recognition of Robert Johnson’s legacy by the people of Mississippi. It takes the form of a small obelisk, situated in the graveyard  of the Zion Church north of Morgan City, and is notable in that it lists every one of his recorded songs on one of its faces.

Haunted by Papparazzi – Even in Death

\

Our pilgrimage complete, we began to make our way south to Jackson, State capital of Mississippi.  I pondered on what we had seen. I believe, as do the majority, that he is buried in Little Zion Churchyard, and there were wintnesses who said they saw him being placed beneath the tree.  Once again, as with Elvis, I had such a deep emotion sat by that simple grave.  There is an inscription on the Little Zion headstone that says everything –
“He influenced millions beyond his time.” 
This was the closest I’d come to touching the blues.
Kev Moore
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February 2, 2010 - Posted by | Music, Writing | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for this!-plan on taking a similar trip.

    Comment by waynelaw | August 5, 2013


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