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YMMV / Robert Johnson

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  • Covered Up: He became famous mostly thanks to other rock bands covering his songs, like The Rolling Stones ("Love in Vain Blues" as "Love in Vain", "Stop Breakin' Down Blues" as "Stop Breakin' Down"), Cream ("Cross Road Blues" as "Crossroads"), Led Zeppelin ("Traveling Riverside Blues") and Red Hot Chili Peppers ("They're Red Hot").
    • In addition, Led Zeppelin's "The Lemon Song" from their sophomore album directly quotes Johnson with the line "squeeze my lemon, baby, until the juice runs down my leg".
    • "Stop Breakin' Down Blues" was also covered by The White Stripes on their self-titled debut.
  • Gateway Series: These days he's most listeners' introduction to acoustic Blues recorded during The Great Depression.
  • Posthumous Popularity Potential: During his lifetime Robert Johnson's fame remained limited to his own home state and he never became rich from his recording sessions. His legend only grew after his death.
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  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: For Blues/Jazz. To modern blues listeners, none of what he made sounds particularly innovative, but that's because he invented most of those conventions in the first place.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: As with most rural bluesmen of the time, Johnson often took existing songs and reworked them with his own lyrics and musical tweaking. The best documented examples are "Walking Blues" (based on Son House's "My Black Mama"), "Sweet Home Chicago" (Kokomo Arnold's "Old Original Kokomo Blues", which itself was based on other songs), and "Love in Vain" (based on Leroy Carr's "When the Sun Goes Down").
  • Tear Jerker: The Break-Up Song "Love in Vain", in which Johnson bids a Train-Station Goodbye to his lover.
    Well, the train come in the station
    And I looked her in the eye
    Whoa, I felt so sad so lonesome
    That I could not help but cry
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  • Vindicated by History: Johnson had little success in his lifetime; he performed mostly on street corners and in bars and only made a handful of recordings. Today, he's considered to be one of the greatest blues musicians. Certainly the idea of the President of the United States singing one of Johnson's songs would have sounded like a fairytale during his lifetime.

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