Never paid attention to the words before the other night. Surely I heard this a few times in the past. Why is it I never paid attention?
Really, I don’t think that matters.
I heard it on the 12-12-12 concert. I don’t care what NY Magazine thinks; I thought Eric Clapton was the only one who was worth listening to. All the others were just playing back glory days. To be honest, I couldn’t be bothered to watch most of them. It was too embarassing to see the old folk parade around. Eric was the only one who embraced who he is now, with all the grey and the wrinkles.
So when he sang Crossroads,
I had to do some more digging.
Rosedale was immortalized in Robert Johnson’s 1937 recording Traveling Riverside Blues. In 1968, Eric Clapton’s group Cream incorporated the verse “Goin’ dow to Rosedale” into their version of Johnson’s Cross Road Blues. Although Johnson’s original 1936 version of this song did not mention Rosedale, the town has since become associated with the legend of a bluesman selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads.
Rosedale inspired work by prominent blues artists, including Robert Johnson. Johnson (1911-1938), though among the most influential of all blues musicians, enjoyed limited commercial success as a recording artist during his lifetime.”Traveling Riverside Blues,” from his final session in Dallas, was not even released until twenty-three years after his death, on his landmark 1961 Columbia LP King of the Delta Blues. With that album Johnson’s powerful and poetic blues was introduced to a new generation, including many rock bands who recorded his songs.
Here’s where it gets interesting, in terms of irony:
Delta blues pioneer Charley Patton (1891-1934) spent much of his time in Bolivar County and was the first to sing about Rosedale in his 1929 recording “High Water Everywhere,” a dramatic account of the 1927 Mississippi River flood (“The water done rose, it rose most everywhere… I would go down to Rosedale but they tell me it’s water there.”)
Just because of the superstorm being the impetus for the concert the other night…
Why is this interesting to me?
Rosedale is also the name of the cemetery in Baltimore where my mother is buried. In fact, my whole Baltimore family is there, on both sides. When we go there, we go visit the whole family. And it has a feeling of a crossroads of a whole different sort.
My father is coming into town here in Philadelphia tomorrow to attend the simchat bat, a celebration of gratitude for our newest little one here; many family members are making a big trek to get here. My father and sister are going afterwards to visit Mom in Rosedale.
I haven’t gone there in a while; I have driven by the cemetery so many times in the past few months on our way to and from this whole area. I say to her that I am busy doing what she taught me to do; to take family seriously, to take care of people.
Our littlest one has been named for my mother; I feel like I have been spending a lot of time with them both. In times like these, with insanity all around, this is the best we can do.