Loading...

Elijah Wald plays Robert Johnson's From Four Till Late

21,594 views

Loading...

Loading...

Transcript

The interactive transcript could not be loaded.

Loading...

Rating is available when the video has been rented.
This feature is not available right now. Please try again later.
Published on Feb 27, 2010

In "Escaping the Delta," I explored the roots and influence of Robert Johnson's music, and tried to place him in the broader perspective of his time and place. This song brings together a lot of the threads that inspired me to write that book.

Johnson plays it in a style that suggests that he had been listening to Blind Blake, and my version takes it several steps further into that territory. But it is also a link to the kinds of urban musicians who are usually filed as jazz artists: the same melody was recorded in 1922 by Johnny Dunn's Original Jazz Hounds, as "Four O'Clock Blues" (you can hear it at http://www.redhotjazz.com/jazzhounds....), so clearly the song was around long before Johnson recorded it.

Whether the words were Johnson's addition, or learned from some forgotten singer in Memphis, or a mix of both, we probably will never know. (When I say in the video that no one sang them before Johnson did, what I meant is that he was the first to record them.) But the goofy pun in the third verse is a perfect example of the sort of humor in a lot of vaudeville and minstrel show blues numbers, and yet another reminder of the way folk and pop styles overlapped--urban pros like W.C Handy learned from rural players, and rural pros like Johnson were paying attention to urban blues, jazz and pop artists.

Loading...

When autoplay is enabled, a suggested video will automatically play next.

Up next


to add this to Watch Later

Add to

Loading playlists...