I love blues music, especially the style that originated in the Mississippi Delta region of the United States in the 1920’s and 1930’s. This music is about life, especially the hardships experienced by those who invented this musical form. Robert Johnson was perhaps the best musician to emerge from the Mississippi Delta in the 1930’s. Despite the fact that he recorded only 29 songs, he is considered to be the master of the Delta blues. Several of his recordings have a haunting quality, especially those where he sings about selling his soul to the devil for his musical prowess.
The legend has it that he met the devil late one night where Highways 49 and 61 cross each other in the town of Clarksdale, Mississippi. It was at these crossroads where Johnson made a pact with the devil to become a master of his craft. This is a story that has been passed down through the years. No one knows for sure if he truly sold his soul to the devil for his musical abilities. However, it does add a mystique to his songs.
Upon a close listen to his recordings, Robert appears to play both lead and rhythm guitar at the same time. This is one thing that makes these songs truly great. He was virtually a one-man show on the guitar. Robert died at the age of 27 under mysterious circumstances, but he left behind a legacy that would influence other musicians that came after him. There are some spiritual truths in his music that are quite profound if you truly listen.
The Delta blues eventually made its way north to cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and Boston. This occurred during the 1940’s and 1950’s, as poor, black sharecroppers moved to the industrial centers of the north to find jobs in factories. Shortly after travelling north, the Delta blues became electrified by the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and various other musicians. It is this style of electrified blues that gave birth to rock and roll in the 1950’s.
Perhaps what I like best about the blues is the honesty of it. Life can indeed be difficult, but we can all find ways to rise above. To me this music also has a very spiritual quality to it. It is music that speaks of sin, despair, and oftentimes redemption. Despite the themes of the blues, it is often uplifting. I think that is because much of speaks to the soul of a person. In the most difficult of circumstances there is always a light that shines through the darkness.
Life is indeed difficult at times. We have all been dealt different challenges. However, we can rise above those difficulties. Music is one thing that really speaks to my soul and helps me to rise to the various challenges I have faced in life.
If you have been a regular reader of this blog, you know that I often find myself in the hospital. In fact, as I write this I am laying in yet another hospital bed waiting to be discharged.
I had my gallbladder removed yesterday, as there was no longer any blood flow to it. This is due to the fact that I had three, fairly large gallstones which had formed. These stones blocked the normal functioning of the gallbladder and it shut down.
This is just another curveball that life has thrown my way. However, I have learned to hit the curveballs head on as they come. My faith plays a large part in this, despite the fact that it is often hard to have faith when things go wrong. Ultimately, I know God has a plan and it is my responsibility to look to Him for guidance.
One of my favorite blues muscians is Muddy Waters. As noted above, he is one of those who brought the Delta blues north. A well known song of his is “Rollin’ Stone.” This title was taken from the old proverb which says that a “rolling stone gathers no moss.” I think this means we must all remain active or we will go stagnant.
I certainly have gone stagnant in many areas of my life. For instance, I used to be a fairly healthy person. However, over the last few years I have become someone who has neglected my health. I have eaten poorly and have put on weight. This weight is not healthy for several reasons, especially due to my spina bifida, as it adds extra stress on my hips and legs.
My poor diet is something that I am sure contributed to the problems that I have had with my gallbladder. I plan to learn from this experience and once again become a “Rollin Stone.” My body can’t handle the moss that has gathered on it. If you are a praying person, please pray for strength for me to keep rolling. My gallstones have motivated me to become a “Rollin Stone.”