he played from town to town
but he never played the song he heard
he couldn’t pin it down.
Then in a bar one evening
a story moved him toward his fate
it concerned Old Nick, the devil,
how he filled a poor man's plate.
It seems the poor man swapped his soul
on a road outside of town
and from then until the day he died
he was a man of great renown.
So Robert took his big guitar
every lick, and run, and fill,
played them on that midnight road
with a fever and a chill.
He bounced his music off the stars
that winked so high above,
bounced it up to Jesus’ throne
it wasn’t Jesus’ kind of love.
So the Good Lord grabbed a note,
bent it round and threw it back,
sent it screaming past the earth
through the cold and through the black.
Old Nick he was listening
as he fed the fires at home
He said, I want that sound
like my hell-hound wants a bone.
So it was up to the crossroad
he took Himself that night
and Robert was like candle wax
that melts around the light.
Mr. Johnson, said the devil,
you play like hell’s a-fire,
but I can make you better,
I can take you higher.
I can give you all you want
and double that and more,
I just ask when life is over
your soul’s parked at my door.
Robert Johnson knew already
this was a deal he would make,
it was the reason he was there,
it was a bargain he would take.
Robert Johnson bent his knee,
watched his axe go up in fire,
signed his name, sealed his fate,
joined Nick’s infernal choir.
And when the smoke had cleared,
and the sun rose in the East,
Mr. Johnson left the crossroadwith his new best friend, the Beast.