Saturday, April 4, 2009

ROBERT JOHNSON, "Kind Hearted Woman"

The "Grandfather of Rock ‘n’ Roll" and the first post-modern blues artist.

Kind Hearted Blues was the first song that Johnson recorded. It was written as an answer to “Cruel Hearted Woman Blues” by Bumble Bee Slim and tells the story of a women who, quite obviously, treats you right. The technique of creating songs to “answer” another was a very common practice. The song’s lyrics are a little jumbled and both praise and criticize women, but the music itself is groundbreaking. Instruments were only used as mere accompaniments at this time, but Johnson departs from the looser guitar style playing and creates a full-fledged arrangement.

In the first verse Johnson bases his guitar on the piano lines that Carr played.

The second verse has Johnson changing to a high guitar riff and having his vocal follow that riff, rather than the other way around.

For the third verse he goes to a bridge and throws in a startling falsetto. Then he does something totally unexpected for a blues guitarist at this time: he does an instrumental break.

He ends with the fourth verse and a haunting plea: “You well’s to kill me, as to have it on your mind.”

The record had two takes, the first of which contains his only recorded guitar solo. This song was recorded by many other contemporary artists that followed including Muddy Waters, Robert Lockwood Jr, and Keb’ Mo’, and was also included on Eric Clapton’s album, Me and Mr. Johnson.

Check out "Kind Hearted Woman" here:

informational sources:

Robert Johnson. Kind Hearted Blues. Brunswick Records. Recorded on:Nov 23, 1936 in San Antonio, TX

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