Blue Monday

There are no half-baked legends swirling around singer Johnnie Temple, but his singing and delivery were clearly an influence on Robert Johnson. Certainly “Lead Pencil Blues,” with its now-standard chord progression and mildly smutty lyrics, can be heard echoing through Johnson standards like “Terraplane Blues.” Just a reminder that Johnson, as Elijah Wald notes in his book Escaping the Delta, was not a devil or disciple of Satan, but a performer trying to court a popular audience in the 1930s.

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