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Beyond the CrossroadsThe Devil and the Blues Tradition$
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Adam Gussow

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469633664

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469633664.001.0001

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(p.304) Conclusion
Beyond the Crossroads

Adam Gussow

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter argues that the meaning of the blues-devil has shifted over time, with white understandings that highlight Robert Johnson's soul-sale at the crossroads coming to dominate the contemporary conversation. Clarksdale, Mississippi has become a center of touristic interest in Johnson and a place where artists and investors seek to profit from a stereotyped, gothic-laden idea of the crossroads; this development bothers some black residents of the city, who feel as though their neighborhood, one historically connected with the blues, has been bypassed. The devil-blues lyric tradition, meanwhile, has flourished in the first fifteen years of the new millennium, a development driven both by Johnson's popularity and by a post-9/11 anxiety about "evil" at large in the world. The longstanding struggle between black southern ministers and purveyors of "the devil's music" continues into the present, at least in Mississippi, but with noticeably less intensity than in days gone by.

Keywords:   blues, devil, Robert Johnson, crossroads, Clarksdale, Mississippi, blues tourism, lyric tradition, evil, devil's music

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