Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Traveling: Standing at the Crossroads

Second stop on what will turn out to be Carol's magical mystery ride across Mississippi was at the Crossroads: the intersection of HWYs 49 and 61 in Clarksdale. Legend has it that here, Robert Johnson, the original blues' man who has inspired many, in particular Eric Clapton, met the devil. And in exchange for his soul, the devil gave Johnson his musical abilities. Johnson recorded his song 'The Crossroads' in 1936. Johnson died in his 20's, which only lends to his mystic. I was drawn to the area because of Johnson, yet knowing nothing of the pact he supossedly made; rather, I use his music as example when I introduce long time ago blues to my stiludents when I teach Toni Morrison's 'The Bluest Eye.' In the the novel, the blues sung by her characters is evidence of male marginalization. My students read the blues in the novel, but I want them to experience how they sound. We usually listen to Robert Johnson and Bessie Smith, who conincidentally died in Clarksdale.

I didn't get any sense of any devil standing at the Crossroads. I think that the August Mississippi hot, which is quite formidable, is too sizzling for even him.

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