Mississippi Delta blues legend Robert Johnson is among many artists who received more fame after death than before. His life has been fictionalized on stage and in film. And his music has been recorded by many.
Most recently, rock icon Eric Clapton has paid homage to the man who, according to popular folklore, received his talent for playing the blues in a deal with the devil.Me and Mr. Johnson
is Clapton’s tribute to the blues innovator.
Long known for his love of deep blues, Clapton’s expression of Johnson’s music stands alongside the Englishman’s strongest achievements.
"It is a remarkable thing to have been driven and influenced all of my life by the work of one man," Clapton says in a press release. "And even though I accept that it has always been the keystone of my musical foundation, I still would not regard it as an obsession. Instead, I prefer to think of it as a landmark that I navigate by, whenever I feel myself going adrift."
Up until he heard Johnson’s music, everything he heard seemed as if it were dressed up for a shop window somewhere, Clapton says. When he finally heard Johnson, it was like the bluesman was singing for himself and occasionally, maybe, God.Clapton had to take it in small doses, building in strength over time.
Now, he says the music is like an old friend.
"It’s the finest music I have ever heard," Clapton says. "I have always trusted its purity, and I always will."Me and Mr.Johnson
features Clapton renditions of 14 of the 29 songs written and recorded by the mythic Mississippi blues master over the course of his brief career in the 1930s. Johnson is often called the greatest bluesman of all time - someone inspired not only Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and other Chicago urban blues titans, but also was a huge influence on the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers Band in the development of rock & roll during the 1960s and ’70s.
Clapton has recorded a number of Robert Johnson songs in the past, but this is the first time he has dedicated an entire album to the legendary blues pioneer.
On these 14 tracks, Clapton sounds right at home in a Mississippi Delta juke joint - belting out well-known Johnson tunes with a strong supporting cast. Whether you buy the album because you’re a fan of Clapton or because you love the blues, you won’t be disappointed.
It’s a match made in musical heaven.