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Preaching blues

Black Caribbean Literature (BCL)
Brackett,David, (Author)
Journal Article
Publication Date:
Spring; Spring, 2012
African American Research Center, Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject Term:
38: Jazz and blues, General
Unedited] Blues scholarship has offered a number of interpretations for the haunted desperation of the souls of Delta blues musicians, their deals with the devil, and the magical acquisition of musical skill. The association of 1920s and 1930s blues musicians with the supernatural may have been fed by those rediscovered blues musicians sharing what their mid-20th c. white interlocutors wanted to hear, but they may also have resonated with a more metaphorical belief in the role of the supernatural. Robert Johnson’s diverse recordings, specifically “Crossroad blues,” “Preaching blues” and “If I dad possession over judgment day,” illuminate connections between blues and African Diaspora of the circum-Caribbean. The lyrical content, with its images of prayer and desperation, musical construction, with connections to common practices in religious musics in the circum-Caribbean, and ascribed primitivist elements in these songs suggest that Johnson’s invocation of the supernatural may also have been the metaphorical presentation of a widely known legend. Therefore, beliefs about spirituality in the blues, and the interconnection of blues and religion, have bases beyond religious or commercial sources.