At the Crossroads

At the Crossroads

I was reading through the interview Bob Dylan gave to Ed Bradley and was curious about a couple of remarks:

So why is he still out there? Asks Bradley.

“It goes back to that destiny thing. I mean, I made a bargain with it, you know, long time ago. And I’m holding up my end … to get where I am now,” says Dylan.

And with whom did he make the bargain? “With the chief commander,” says Dylan, laughing. “In this earth and in the world we can’t see.”

Very strange thing to say. That led me to Robert Johnson. Did the legendary bluesman sell his soul to the devil in exchange for musical genius at the crossroads of US 61 and US 49 in Rosedale, Mississippi? He had desperately wanted to be able to play the guitar but was a massive failure. He would sit around ‘noisin’ the people because he was just that awful. Eventually he went away for a while and returned with exceptional guitar playing skills which got him recognized around town. According to legend, it was during the time when he was away that he met a tall black figure at a crossroads who had taken his guitar, tuned it and handed it back to him. This can be seen as the devil.

What is one to think about, We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n’ Roll, a compilation album by Black Sabbath back in 1975?

Then I read about musician Giuseppe Tartini who was born in 1692, his work is still popular, particularly his work, “The Devil’s Trill”, which was said to be inspired by a dream that he had that he was the Devil’s servant.

Or how about Niccolo Paganini? He is probably the first great example of legendary musicians who make a pact with Lucifer. He was said to be able to do supernatural things like sight-read music incredibly. His solos were notoriously difficult to play and his effect on audiences was said to be hypnotic and supernatural, like he was possessing the crowd.

Thinking about this, I sat down and wrote this poem over the weekend.

CROSSROADS

Between the worlds he bargained for
Fame, fortune and adoration;
Satan’s compact, he duly swore:
And sold his soul at the crossroads.

Once known—merely ordinary
Now an admired virtuoso
Musical gifts—extraordinary
The devil’s bargain, wouldn’t you know?

Give what, in exchange for his soul?
Sweet allure of the devil’s pact—
Gain the whole world—and lose his soul?
Snared by Satan’s aphrodisiac.

The time has come to pay his dues
Mephistopheles with the contract;
On his deathbed—time to collect,
What is owed on the devil’s compact.

The rock star curses his sacrifice,
His dying breath—what he has owed,
Paid his master a heavy price:
He sold his soul at the crossroad.

About Jim

We currently split our time between Western Nebraska and the Arizona Sonoran sunshine in Gold Canyon.
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