Crossroads, Devils and Ghosts of Mississippi
A trip with Travel For Fans, the project created by the Rootsway Association of Parma and the Il Blues Magazine, in collaboration with Tour Operator Altrimenti Viaggi, it can give many pleasant surprises, such as revive old legends related to the land where the blues was born, in the heart of Mississippi Delta. Every culture has deep roots, traditionally, special emblems that can wrap around themselves curious stories and mythologies. Many of these emblems are strongly linked with the various religions, throughout history, have been mixed together. As happened in the Southern States of the USA where, due to the importation of human material, to be used as slaves on the plantations, Africa and the Caribbean colonies their original religions, Voodoo in head, were outlawed by landowners fearful of practices and religious cults exercised. Obviously this does not mean that the traditions and beliefs of the origins were abandoned and forgotten, there was – in fact – that black people adopt some religious figures and did their Christian rituals and sacred books without, however, betray and forget their origins. And it is on these origins that was born black American religion that we find represented in the blues, and gospel while in spitituals prevails in the expression of the Christian religion, particularly Baptist and evangelical. Of course, every religion has a figure to contrast the good, to truth, to God or an evil entity, destructive and deceptive and that may be spiritual or supernatural. If you want to be precise, in contrast to the Christian religion, in the Haitian, where does the voodoo god Legba – wrongly compared to the devil – may be compared to the African god Eshu – Elegba that he had not at all negative powers but, on the contrary, played a role as intermediary between the gods and man, as well as the patron god of travelers and roads, and it was customary to leave offerings at crossroads in his honor. Here, then, comes into play a fundamental symbol for the African-American population: the crossing. Better known by the term crossroads is not only the meeting point of two streets, but is the choice to change life drastically. In the history of the blues, there is a legend that has become among the most famous of all the Deep South and is linked to one of the most important composers of the music of the Mississippi Delta, regardless of the veracity or otherwise of this legend Robert Johnson. It is said that the young harmonica player had a great attraction for the guitar, but with disastrous results, such as Son House told that, along with Willie Brown tried to dissuade the young man, then almost twenty years old, the use of the guitar. He disappeared for a year and when he returned in 1931, joined the duo that he was exhibiting in Banks, near Robinsonville. After an initial phase of mockery gave space to the two young Johnson, who left everyone speechless. His guitar style was amazing, full and ripe with a masterful use of the bottleneck and could captivate an audience like few others. Immediately spread the rumor that Johnson had sold his soul to the devil in exchange for lavish musical qualities. But how could all this have happened? Legend has it that to meet this character should go, shortly before midnight, where there is an intersection and start playing the guitar. Soon will come a big black man who will take the guitar, the grant, will play a song and return. That’s what they say happened to Robert Johnson ( and before him, Tommy Johnson) , but of course there is a price to pay for all this, and the devil came to him, sultry night in 1938, to reclaim what due to him. The official data, fortunately, recorded that the young Johnson was killed in circumstances not well defined, although it seems the hand of the master of the local Three Forks, where he was performing, jealous dell’assiduo courting his wife. But it is only since the mid- sixties that the myth of the crossroads grew to exponential levels, after an article by Pete Welding appeared in Down. The biggest names in rock began, starting with Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones, playing songs including the famous Johnson’s Crossroads Blues and the crosshair entered the collective imagination. But where is this elusive intersection? Many and varied are the locations in the Delta to start than in the south of Dockety Farms already existing at the time of Johnson. Luther Brown, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Cleveland in Mississippi, says that the current crossing, complete with a monument, shown in Clarksdale not exist at the time , as the Highway 61 and Highway 49 met closer to the New World District, where Robert Johnson certainly must have, however, sauntered. But, regardless of what the exact location of the crossroads, it remains that this legend has greatly contributed to increase the blues fans, capturing the imagination with this scent of supernatural and mystery, as the real burial place of the same Johnson, who can boast three tombstones. Much has been written and sung on this story , even the films were made. It remains, however, the only absolute truth and that is that this earth has the power to convey the unique and unrepeatable sensations. But you have to step on it and must capture smells and sounds, perhaps in a remote Juke Joint. Maybe a trip with Travel For Fans.