The Devil In Popular Music Through The Life And Works Of Robert Johnson

2028 words - 9 pages

The devil has been seen through many forms in popular music throughout history from the voodoo drums of the African slaves to modern artists marketing ploys. The term popular music is particularly ambiguous, so to define, in this piece it shall refer to dominant pieces or performers within the last 100 years.
Many composers and artists have been branded by religious organisations as being in league with the devil, from the banning of songs, performers and even chords and movements by the church to the present day right wing Christian ‘preachers’ of YouTube.
The devil, in this context, comes in many guises; Lucifer or Satan as in the Judeo Christian texts or anything demonic or unwholesome/ unholy. It can also be seen as a racial slur against the white population during the 20th century. This can reveal itself within music through lyrics; vocal sounds/ tone and harmonies the rhythm or melody of songs. Other manifestations in modern music include videos, marketing, iconography within the heavy metal genre and back masking.
This report will focus on the Faustian mythology surrounding the life and works of Robert Johnson who purportedly sold his soul to the devil. Despite very little being known about Robert Johnson it is his music in tandem with the lore of his life that creates the foundations of the devil in popular music.

Although it is uncertain exactly when Robert Johnson was born, like a fictional character, details on Robert Johnson are sparse, his year of birth is placed sometime between 1910 and 1913. His death is attributed (dependant on source) to anything from pneumonia, poison by a disgruntled husband and stabbing. Those how know him spoke about his love of ‘whiskey and women’, both ungodly pursuits.
During his life he recorded just 29 pieces. According to Paul Oliver in the ‘story of the Blues’ “Johnson was a mediocre guitar player” who disappeared for a year to return as “the king of delta blues” singer; which was a title of an album recorded by Johnson released in 1961.
According to folklore Johnson had a desire to become a ’bluesman’, though received poor crowd response after playing the breaks of Son House gigs where his music was often described as being just noise. Legend has it that Johnson took his guitar to a crossroads where he was met by a large black man; the devil. At the crossroads stands a monument displaying 3 guitars as a tribute to the unity between music and the devil.
At this crossroads Johnson was said to have handed the devil his guitar who then tuned it and played briefly on it. Once handed back the guitar Johnson had mastery of the instrument, but had relinquished his soul to the devil.
ME AND THE DEVIL BLUES
Early this morning
When you knocked upon my door
Early this morning, oooo
When you knocked upon my door
And I said hello Satan
I believe it's time to go

Me and the Devil
Was walkin' side by side
Me and the Devil, woooo
Was walking side by side
And I'm going to beat my woman
'Til I get satisfied
...

Find Another Essay On The Devil in popular music through the life and works of Robert Johnson

Popular Genres of Music in the US: Hip-hop

832 words - 4 pages Hip-hop is one of the most popular genres of music in the U.S. It is very influential in today’s youth, especially young African-American males. It has created such a false image for them, leading them to believe that much of what the rappers talk about is appropriate. Nowadays, some of the most popular rap songs and lyrics are just too graphic for them to be listening to at their age. Hip-hop music causes African-American males to

The Role of Music in Puerto Rican Popular Culture

1600 words - 6 pages The Role of Music in Puerto Rican Popular Culture What is Puerto Rican music like? Where did it develop, and around when did it develop? What makes it up? These are very valid questions for someone who does not know anything about Puerto Rican music or Latin music in general. To understand Puerto Rican music and what it means to Puerto Rican people in general, you must look at the beginning. First there are different kinds of music

The Life of Mendel: His Works and Progress in Genetics

599 words - 2 pages very supportive of what Mendel was doing and he was forced to stop those experiments. In 1851, Gregor Mendel got the chance to enter the University of Vienna for two years, to train to be a teacher of Mathematics and Biology. He was given this opportunity by the Abbot, who supported Mendel and helped him in whatever way he can. It was at the University in Vienna that Mendel developed his skills as a researcher, which he utilized later in his life

Popular Music in the United States: Rap

738 words - 3 pages Popular in the united states, the rhythmic music known as rap can be traced back generations to it’s ethnic origins. Centuries before hip hop music existed, the Tribes of West Africa were delivering stories rhythmically, over drums and sparse instrumentation. Connections between tribal story telling virtuals and rap music have been acknowledged by many modern day "tribes", spoken word artists, mainstream news sources, and academics. In the 21st

Payola: The Dirty Side of Popular Music

5135 words - 21 pages stations and DJs have been willing accomplices to the manipulation of the popular music market. The record industry has depended on various forms of "pay for play" called "payola" to promote their records on the radio and thereby increase sales and gain exposure for their artists. Over the last fifty years, despite government attempts to do away with payola, the practice keeps returning in different forms. The history of Rock and Roll is

The Life and Works of Thomas Hardy

3323 words - 13 pages country in Dorset. ("Thomas Hardy: The Man He Killed.") Thomas Hardy began as a controversial novelist, presenting ideas and beliefs that were counter-cultural. His first two books were not well received. However, Hardy ultimately published numerous novels that became popular literary works: Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge. He received enough royalties from these works to discontinue writing books

The Life and Works of E.B White

2127 words - 9 pages that he was born on a lucky day, seven and eleven being lucky numbers (Elledge 10), but his life and works transcended over whatever luck that day might have brought, he became a principal American essayist, humorist and a stylist of literature. With a clear and graceful style he authored among others, through his vast range of writing abilities, children’s books Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web and the Trumpet of the Swan, which became

The Life and Works of Emily Bronte

1516 words - 7 pages essays later on in his life. Some of his works include; Winter Evening Thoughts, Cottage Poems, and The Cottage In The Wood. On June 7, 1861 Patrick Bronte died at the age of 84, he outlived every last one of his children. Maria Bronte was Emily Bronte’s mother; she was the eighth of eleven children. She was born April 5, 1785. Maria Bronte was 29 when she married Patrick Bronte; the wedding took place December 29, 1812. Maria Bronte had six

The Life and Works of William Shakespeare

1260 words - 5 pages Harris 6Albrenda HarrisProfessor Pangikas-MillerWorld Literature10/09/2014Textual ResearchThe Life and Works of William ShakespeareChildhood, Education, and MarriageWilliam Shakespeare was born in a market town one hundred miles northwest of London, by the name of Stratford-upon-Avon on April twenty-second or twenty- third, in the year fifteen sixty-four. After his third to fourth day of life he was baptized in his hometown on the twenty sixth

The Life and Works of Upton Sinclair

2225 words - 9 pages The Life and Works of Upton Sinclair       Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr. was born in a boardinghouse in Baltimore, Maryland on September 20, 1878, to Upton Beall and Priscilla Harden Sinclair. Sinclair's childhood was complicated and the future of his family was always economically uncertain. His family was still recovering from the devastation dealt to the Southern aristocracy by Federal Reconstruction, and his father, an unsuccessful

The Life and Works of James Joyce

1260 words - 6 pages Ulysses James Joyce was a renowned Irish author and poet most known for writing the book Ulysses which parallels the events of The Odyssey in a variety of writing styles. Although Ulysses is considered his magnum opus his other works including Dubliners, A portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Finnegans Wake are held in high esteem by many. Joyce was born in the Irish city of Dublin on the second of February, 1882 and was baptized by the

Similar Essays

The Life And Works Of Samuel Johnson

1112 words - 4 pages The Life and Works of Samuel Johnson Samuel Johnson, a prominent English writer of the early eighteenth century, brought vivid life to the literary realm of that era. He is known by many to be a writer of great intellect, thought, and positive influence in the writings of literary to follow. Johnson has been hailed as a literary giant in his day, as well as in present times. Samuel Johnson is a great writer because of

Isolation And Nature In The Works Of Robert Frost

3441 words - 14 pages Isolation and Nature in the Works of Robert Frost During the height of Robert Frost’s popularity, he was a well-loved poet who’s natural- and simple-seeming verse drew people - academics, artists, ordinary people both male and female - together into lecture halls and at poetry readings across the country.1 An eloquent, witty, and, above all else, honest public speaker, Frost’s readings imbued his poetry with a charismatic resonance

Tragic Life And Works Of Robert Browning

1281 words - 6 pages Robert browning established some great works in the 18th century his poems had dramatic verses and a dramatic style. Browning took off very slowly but when he did he became very noticed in the English society and his hard work eventually took off and got noticed also. Browning symbolizes the dramatic monologue like for example, in his poem ‘’my last duchess’’ he gave out conclusions through his characters actions. Browning

A Comparison And Contrast Of Popular Music And Lyrics In The 1950's And Today

804 words - 3 pages great deal. In the 50's, aggression was never used in song; it would be banned by the church and labeled as songs of the devil, because of the religious innocence in that time period. It would also be banned by the government because it did not uplift the mood and morale of the veterans who had suffered mentally and physically in World War II. On the other hand, today aggression is greatly used in many examples of music, such as DMX's previous