There have only been four or five episodes so far (it began airing in August of 2021), but all of them have been excellent. Ms. Anderson was interviewed in the initial episode and she provided some good information about Johnson that only a family member could relate (and also promised a future book with even more information in the near future). Others highlighted so far have been Larry Cohn, the producer of the Robert Johnson box set from the early 90's, as well as other excellent historical reissues, Living Blues founder Jim O'Neal, who shared a couple of interviews with musicians who knew Johnson, including a most interesting take on what really killed Johnson, and musician Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxson. All of the episodes so far have been very informative and enlightening.
During the discussion, Guralnick mentioned that he had updated and re-published Searching For Robert Johnson, adding relevant information recently revealed as well as some other information, including a superb discography and bibliography to help fans dig deeper into Johnson and his influences. The new edition of the book is available in digital form only right now and can be found at Amazon. I picked it up before Christmas and read it in one sitting. It's been a while since I read the original and Guralnick fills in a few blanks here and there, but the original essay is well worth reading if you've never read it.
Since I started listening to Last Fair Deal, I've managed to fill in a few gaps in my Robert Johnson listening, both of him and some of his influences. I thought I'd list a few in case anyone out there might be interested in hearing more. Johnson basically took from those musicians he enjoyed and added his own brand of blues to the mix, not unlike future music pioneers of other genres like Elvis Presley or Miles Davis or Jimi Hendrix, who combined other styles and genres into their music. What made him stand out among blues artists, then and now, was his unique guitar playing and his vocals, which, with their vulnerable, almost haunted quality, were quite different from many of his contemporaries.
Here are some recommended recordings from Johnson and from a few of his influences......
In a future post, we'll look at some of Johnson's contemporaries and followers, so please stay tuned.