"You may bury my body down by the highway side
Baby, I don't care where you bury my body when I'm dead and gone
You may bury my body, ooh down by the highway side
So my old evil spirit can catch a Greyhound bus and ride" — Me and the Devil Blues ©(1978) 1990, 1991 Lehsem II, LLC/Claud L. Johnson (Administered by Music & Media International, Inc.)
A young man walks slowly down a lonely dirt road in the delta region of Mississippi. Without a soul for miles around, and near midnight, it’s an eerie place – a place where the imagination runs wild and anything is possible. "Damn," he curses to himself, ashamed of his fear for starting at the hoot of an owl nearby, "ain’t nothin’ here, it’s just a damn old wives tale, is all."
Legend has it, if you go to the crossroads at midnight you can get your heart's desire, for a price. All you have to do is step out into the crossroads and wait for your guest to arrive. If you’re lucky, he won’t come. If he does, you’d better be sure what you want is worth the cost. The devil only wants one payment, and there’s no going back on the bargain. Don’t bother praying to God for help, your soul is no longer His concern.
Welcome to the legend of Robert Johnson. No personality in the long and colorful history of the blues has fired the imagination more than he does. Rumored to have sold his soul to the devil for his musical ability, Johnson made the most of his talent, beginning a musical legacy that would last long beyond his short years, and ensure he would never be forgotten.
Adding to the mystique surrounding his purported arrangement with Beelzebub was Johnson’s physical appearance. He was a handsome man, very popular with the ladies, but he had unusually long fingers and a cataract in one eye. Some said it was his ‘evil eye,’ a reminder of his crossroad meeting with old Scratch.
Johnson was known for odd behavior while performing. His habit of turning his back on his audience while he played made some uneasy. He was also known to get upset. He would simply walk off the stage and leave if someone got too curious about his technique. Such behavior wouldn’t raise an eyebrow today, but in Robert Johnson’s era it was unusual for a performer to behave as he did.