In 1966 Eric Clapton, with his band Cream, recorded “Crossroads “, a song that was originally written and recorded by blues musician Robert Johnson 30 years earlier. In the first line of the song Johnson sings “I went down to the crossroads…..”
The crossroads which Johnson references is believed to be at the intersection of Highways 49 and 61 (Coahoma County, Mississippi), where the travelling musician claimed to have knelt down at midnight and made a deal with the devil for his soul in exchange for god like guitar skills.
Like all legends the story of Robert Johnson has many different versions, and the exact location of the crossroads is often argued about. Highway 49 and 61 still exist 80 or so years later but are believed to be some way from where they originally were.
There are some things however that most folks can agree. The crossroads are near a place called Clarksdale, a rural town in Mississippi. And Mississippi is the land where the blues began.
Whether you believe the legend or not, the story of Robert Johnson is a good yarn, and the crossroads has become a sort of pilgrimage for blues enthusiasts from all over the world.
Thousands of people visit the Mississippi delta every year. For most it’s a spiritual experience.As if by standing on the same street corners, and being fully immersed in the culture they too will receive the same gifts as Robert Johnson. Like a Southern Baptist receiving the holy ghost.