Cross Road Blues

Cross Road Blues: The Story behind the Song

When it comes to the history of blues music, there are few songs as iconic as "Cross Road Blues." This classic tune, originally recorded by legendary blues artist Robert Johnson in 1936, has gone on to inspire generations of musicians and is widely considered one of the greatest blues songs of all time.

The Legend of Robert Johnson

To fully understand the significance of "Cross Road Blues," it is important to first explore the legacy of its creator, Robert Johnson. Born in 1911 in Mississippi, Johnson began playing music as a teenager and quickly developed a reputation as a talented guitarist and singer. However, despite his musical abilities, Johnson struggled to find success in his lifetime and died at the young age of 27.

In the years following Johnson's death, his legend only grew. Stories spread about his alleged pact with the devil at a crossroads, which was said to have given him his impressive musical abilities. While these tales may be more myth than fact, there is no denying the immense influence that Johnson has had on the blues genre and beyond.

The Lyrics and Meaning of "Cross Road Blues"

At its core, "Cross Road Blues" is a song about desperation and hopelessness. The lyrics describe a man standing at a crossroads, unsure of which path to take in life. He pleads with the devil for guidance, willing to do almost anything to escape his current circumstances.

The song's haunting melody and Johnson's soulful delivery only add to its emotional impact. "Cross Road Blues" is a testament to the power of the blues as a means of expressing pain and struggle.

The Evolution of "Cross Road Blues"

Since its initial release in 1936, "Cross Road Blues" has been covered by countless musicians and has taken on a life of its own. One of the most famous versions of the song was recorded by Eric Clapton in 1969, which brought Johnson's music to a whole new generation of fans.

In the years since, "Cross Road Blues" has been covered by everyone from Cream to The Rolling Stones. Its influence can be heard in countless other genres, from rock to hip hop.

The Legacy of "Cross Road Blues"

While Robert Johnson may have died young, his impact on music continues to be felt today. "Cross Road Blues" remains a powerful reminder of the struggles and triumphs of the human experience, and its timeless message continues to resonate with audiences around the world.

  • Some other famous Robert Johnson songs include "Sweet Home Chicago" and "Hellhound on My Trail."
  • Johnson was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
  • Many music historians credit Johnson with making the guitar a more prominent instrument in blues music.


"Cross Road Blues" is more than just a song – it is a testament to the power of music to express the deepest, most complex emotions. From its haunting lyrics to its iconic melody, this classic tune has left an indelible mark on the world of music and will continue to inspire generations of artists for years to come.