It seems fitting, somehow, that “Kind Hearted Woman Blues” was the very first song Robert Johnson recorded. (And I take it whoever that woman was she wasn’t that kind, at least not to him.) Fitting, because women figured prominently in Johnson’s life. Likewise in his death. The story goes that he was poisoned in 1938, at just 27 years old, by a jealous husband, unhappy about Johnson’s flirting with his wife.
So that was that for Robert Johnson, king of the delta blues. Except that it wasn’t. Despite his short life and even shorter career -- about eight years and only 29 songs on record, most of which he wrote -- Johnson has influenced, inspired and confounded generations of musicians and archivists ever since. Not just for the blues, but rock and roll too. Canadian bluesman Colin Linden counts him as a major influence. So does guitar great Colin James. Listen below to Eric Clapton's version of "Kind Hearted Woman Blues."
This week’s Inside the Music features a documentary on Johnson produced in 2011 in honour of the centennial of his birth. It covers all the bases for even the most avid Johnson fan, including an exploration of his "deal with the devil."
Listen to Inside the Music on Sunday 3 p.m. (3:30 NT) and Radio One on Sunday at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) Sirius Radio on Saturday at 12 midnight(ET) and Sundays at 6 (ET)
Robert Johnson's legacy gets a makeover
The devil and Robert Johnson
on Nov 17, 2012