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Witch Cross • BC Sweet • Gonads • Christie

Searching for Mr. Johnson

Mr. Johnson and Friends at the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum

Today, I’m going to try and do some work on the track “Mr.Johnson” from my Blue Odyssey project. It would be unthinkable to do a musical trip through the Delta without a nod to the Father of the blues, Robert Johnson.  We made a pilgrimage to his grave – and the other two memorial sites, just in case!

The lyrics will deal with the folklore that has grown up surrounding the circumstances of his death, and the mystery over his final resting place. Of course, its invaluable to have actually been there, to have something tangible to draw on. I hope I can reflect it in the song. I’ve already got the bare bones of the track down, with my attempt at some blues slide guitar for the intro to set the mood, then a thoughtful laid back verse that breaks into a steady shuffle for the chorus.  I’ve used a simple trick to get a certain mood on the verse. It’s something I heard on a Johnny Cash record recently, a single, repeating piano note underlying an acoustic guitar. I thought “thanks Johnny, I’m having some of that!”

The next job is to kind of ‘sew’ the whole thing together, make it sound cohesive – and finish the lyrics. One of my biggest failings is completing the music and lyrics to a verse and a chorus of something and then leaving it for weeks on end – it’s something I need a huge amount of self-discipline to combat.  I suppose I love the cathartic process of having the idea, getting it out, and realizing it in its basic form – but the necessary completion means I need to get into another gear, and I sometimes find that difficult. Nevertheless, it will be done!

The ultimate blues harp collection

Kev Moore

July 5, 2010 Posted by | Blue Odyssey CD, blues, Home Studio, Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Writing | , , , , | Leave a comment

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

February 2, 2010 Posted by | Music, Writing | , , , , , , | 1 Comment