Dallas Church Helps to Preserve Robert Johnson Legacy
Posted by Michael Mueller on November 21, 2011 at 1:14 PM
Legendary bluesman Robert Johnson may or may not have sold his soul to Ol' Scratch to gain his otherworldly chops. But that hasn't stopped the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas from purchasing the building where Johnson recorded nearly half of the 29 songs that compose his complete catalog.
"Robert Johnson's signature song is 'Cross Road Blues,' and a lot of people we serve are at the crossroads, too, brushing shoulders with the negative side of life," Rev. Bruce Buchanan, an associate pastor at the church told the New York Times. "Johnson's story isn't foreign to us at all."
The building, which sits at 508 Park Avenue, in downtown Dallas, Texas, was the branch office of Brunswick Records in the 1930s. Don Law, a producer at Brunswick, was the man who recorded the final 13 songs of Johnson's career, including "Me and the Devil Blues," "Love in Vain," and "Traveling Riverside Blues." But for many years, the location of where those recordings took place was a mystery. In 2005, a letter surfaced in which Law named 508 Park as the site.
In 2009, the wholesale distribution company, Glazer's, applied for a permit to level the building, but it was denied. Then First Presbyterian stepped in and purchased the site, promising to renovate the property and thus preserve its cultural and historical significance.
The renovation is slated to begin next year and will include a cultural center, a performance space, an art studio, a music education center called "The Spirit of the Blues," and, fittingly, a recording studio.
For the complete story, visit NYTimes.com.