I recently had an opportunity to briefly chat with the legendary King of the Delta Blues, through the miracle of the new AT&T. After a recent article "Devil has Great Deals for Guitarists", who should I get a call from, but Robert Johnson himself, phoning in from the afterlife. We had to keep it brief, because even though we're both AT&T users, transdimensional roving fees apply, and there are no free minutes. He also seems pretty busy these days.
I asked what I could quickly think of and frantically scribbled down the mysterious Mr. Johnson's replies.
Stratoblogster: It's a real honor to speak with you Mr. Johnson!
Johnson: Thanks. Call me Bob. I like your blog.
Stratoblogster: You actually read my blog, err... Bob!?
Johnson: Oh yeah, the internet is everywhere. Besides, somebody has to read your blog... Sorry, only kiddin' with ya.
Stratoblogster: It's okay, really! So, if you don't mind me asking, y'know with all that devil stuff and all... Umm, I mean... where exactly are you these days?
Johnson: If you're tryin' to ask if I'm in Hell, well the answer is yes and no. I'm actually closer to Newark, but that's all I can tell you about my location. I have certain obligations which don't allow me to discuss this. It's kinda like a witness protection program, but drivin' in a different terraplane of sorts.
Stratoblogster: Sure, makes total sense to me. So, the big mysteries surrounding you involve how you were such a great Blues musician, whether you really sold your soul to get that way and how you actually died. Can you elaborate on any of these subjects in hopes of setting the stories straight?
Johnson: Well, at this point it wouldn't really make much difference how things actually went down, now would it? It wouldn't change the music, right? Let 'em spin on about me. It tickles me a little.
Stratoblogster: Uh, I guess... But you've made a big impact on music. Do you wanna say anything about that?
Johnson: Well, back in those times a man in my situation who wanted to be his own boss and make a living as a musician, had to be real creative, and that's an understatement! I traveled around a lot and heard different musicians. I also heard some classics from time to time on radios and Victrola's. We held on to anything we heard like it was a piece of beef-- we didn't have no iPod pacifiers to suck on all night and day in some MTV Crib. I had to watch my back and keep movin' and being entertaining enough to survive and eat. The alternatives weren't pretty, but some of the women were, so I just kept singin'. I was good because I had to be good, and the music made good things possible. You just had to know when to move on. One day I got careless. That's all it took.
Stratoblogster: Any advise for today's musicians?
Johnson: Yeah, don't go sellin' your soul! Y'all got fine gear, DVD's, teachers, that Youtube, Myspace, jam tracks... Man, if you can't figure out how to make good music nowadays, you better hang it up Jack! If you're that lame, the devil ain't gonna want your sorry ass down there anyway! Besides, with all that outsourcing goin' on today, you could be standin' on hold at the crossroads for quite a spell before somebody might show up who don't even know nothin', and then be tellin' you some kinda stuff you already know. At least back in the day, you got results from down below. Ain't like that no more, everybody too busy makin' reality TV shows, 24 hour cable news and Viagra commercials. Customer support from Hell just don't exist no more.
Stratoblogster: It seems like you must be familiar with how music has evolved in the decades since you passed on in 1935. Anybody stand out?
Johnson: You might find it hard to believe, but I haven't focused on the music of this world for awhile. There are other levels of things that would take too long to explain. Although, I wished I'd had me an electrified guitar like Hendrix and got to make one of them plaster casts-- you know what I'm talkin' bout. Would have been nice to leave somethin else behind-- you seen my fingers in them pictures... There was only them two photographs of me, and it was tough enough just keepin' guitar strings. I do miss the women though. That Hendrix, he had himself a pretty good time alright-- and they was all fightin' over his ass, still are. Truth is, he was only sent to earth on a quick recon mission to retrieve Leo before things got too crazy.
Stratoblogster: Leo? Who's that?
Johnson: Leo! You know, that old white cat in California who was makin' them electrified solid body guitars. What Leo did you THINK I was talkin' about? Anyways, Leo wasn't supposed to be doing that. He was assigned to another sector, but got to the earth somehow by mistake. Jimi was supposed to escort Leo out and on to the right place, but Jimi, he got himself sidetracked with them Stratocasters and women, and caught up in all that devilment. They never did get Leo out of there. At some point it was too late anyways. Now, I have to check in on Clapton and Gibbons from time to time. Eric Johnson has the Bodhi-Safa, so I steer clear. My boss's son is the real pain, I still need plenty liquored-up before checkin' on Yngwie. Satch & Vai are just like a coupla kids buildin' their lego cities together year after year. Holdsworth alway tells my boss to go piss off. I didn't say that, but it's still kinda funny.
Stratoblogster: So, why did you call me, of all people? I mean, you could have called some serious music writers and journalists.
Johnson: Them people don't have time, and they'd think I was spam callin' anyhow. Nobody reads or believes you, so I get to vent and you get to feel important. You thought you knew all about Stratocaster culture. But before you go gettin' a swelled head, just know you ain't in my top 5 speed dial.
Stratoblogster: But, you're ok if I transcribe this and publish it online?
Johnson: Yeah, it don't matter, because you're not credible anyway and this don't change nothin.
Stratoblogster: Like I said, it's been a real honor to speak with you! Any final thoughts before we end off?
Johnson: Yeah, you blog too much about John Mayer. He doesn't know you and it's startin' to get tired. It does you no good to kiss his candy ass. You're not gonna get any of his women either. You should pay more attention to your wife. Tell Cary at EGR to quit suckin' up to Gibson because Henry J. ain't sendin' a free goldtop his way in a long sight.
If they don't lock you away, I might call again sometime. I'm off to Summer NAMM to look in on our Schecter booth-- gotta keep the ho's in line. Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got 'em for sale! You know what I mean! Now I got me a train to catch!
Stratoblogster: Bye... Bob!
(Well, there ya have it folks. Robert Johnson from the afterlife somewhere near Newark over the AT&T network, on a train bound for NAMM. You got it here first!)
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