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Tom Muck's Blog Category: BluesTom Muck's Blog

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Robert Johnson challenge

Monday, July 11, 2022 10:18:02 AM

A couple weeks ago I decided to take on a Robert Johnson challenge -- learn and post one song per week until I get through all 29 songs. I know a few already, but it's an ambitious undertaking for me and not sure I'll be able to complete it, but I'm giving it an effort. The first two are Kind Hearted Woman and I Believe I'll Dust My Broom. Here is the complete list of Robert Johnson songs, along with the key, tuning, and master number. I'm doing them in order of master numbers, which may or may not be the order they were recorded.

Update: This is the schedule I intend to follow: 

Kind Hearted Woman Blues   1 Sunday, Jul 03, 2022
I Believe I'll Dust My Broom   2 Sunday, Jul 10, 2022
Sweet Home Chicago   3 Sunday, Jul 17, 2022
Ramblin' on My Mind   4 Sunday, Jul 24, 2022
When You Got a Good Friend   5 Sunday, Jul 31, 2022
Come On in My Kitchen   6 Sunday, Aug 07, 2022
Terraplane Blues   7 Sunday, Aug 14, 2022
Phonograph Blues   8 Sunday, Aug 21, 2022
32-20 Blues   9 Sunday, Aug 28, 2022
They're Red Hot   10 Sunday, Sep 04, 2022
Dead Shrimp Blues   11 Sunday, Sep 11, 2022
Cross Road Blues   12 Sunday, Sep 18, 2022
Walkin' Blues   13 Sunday, Sep 25, 2022
Last Fair Deal Gone Down   14 Sunday, Oct 02, 2022
Preaching Blues (Up Jumped the Devil)   15 Sunday, Oct 09, 2022
If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day   16 Sunday, Oct 16, 2022
Stones in My Passway   17 Sunday, Oct 23, 2022
I'm a Steady Rollin' Man   18 Sunday, Oct 30, 2022
From Four Till Late   19 Sunday, Nov 06, 2022
Hellhound on My Trail   20 Sunday, Nov 13, 2022
Little Queen of Spades   21 Sunday, Nov 20, 2022
Malted Milk   22 Sunday, Nov 27, 2022
Drunken Hearted Man   23 Sunday, Dec 04, 2022
Me and the Devil Blues   24 Sunday, Dec 11, 2022
Stop Breakin' Down Blues   25 Sunday, Dec 18, 2022
Traveling Riverside Blues   26 Sunday, Dec 25, 2022
Honeymoon Blues   27 Sunday, Jan 01, 2023
Love in Vain   28 Sunday, Jan 08, 2023
Milkcow's Calf Blues   29 Sunday, Jan 15, 2023

Update: A few things that I want to clear up about Robert Johnson's playing. 1) The recordings are the correct speed. There are a bunch of "slowed down" versions out there, where people insist that they sound better and that they are more accurate. This is utter hogwash. "Sounding better" is pure opinion. Debunked here. 2) Johnson used his own "special" tunings. Several people have come up with various tunings (including an Aadd9 tuning) because they think that the songs are too hard to play if you tune to the regular "standard", "Spanish", or "Vestapol" tunings that Robert (and all blues singers) use. Also utter hogwash. All you have to do is look at the picture of Robert with his long fingers to know that he can reach all those 7ths and other notes that apparently some folks can't play easily. If someone wants to use their own tuning, that's one thing, but don't assert that Robert used the tuning without proof. Interesting to note that some of the people pushing the speed hoax also pushed the mysterious "third picture" hoax and push the tuning hoax.

Update: cross-posted at Substack.

Update 8/18/22: Currently up to 7 songs. Full list is on Youtube

Category tags: Music, Blues, Robert Johnson

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