Sell your soul to the devil at the crossroads in Mississippi

I went to the crossroad
Fell down on my knees
I went to the crossroad
Fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above “Have mercy now,
Save poor Bob, if you please”

“Crossroad Blues” – Robert Johnson

Delta blues legend Robert Johnson reportedly sold his soul to the devil to play guitar at the crossroads. Although he could not read music, he had a keen ear and often imitated the styles of other musicians. From watching fellow guitarist Son House, he was inspired to develop his own bottleneck slide technique.

According to the myth, the young bluesman desperately longed for fame and fortune. Johnson was not satisified with his own musical abilities and felt that he needed more talent to achieve success. He was already bitter toward his creator, blaming God for the death of his beloved wife and unborn child. Despondent and irrational, he made a momentous decision.

At the stroke of midnight, he walked down to the windswept crossroads at the junction of Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, MS. Reciting an ancient incantation, he called upon Satan himself to rise from the fires of Hell. In exchange for Johnson’s immortal soul, the devil tuned his guitar, thereby giving him the abilities which he so desired. From then on, the young bluesman played his instrument with an unearthly style, his fingers dancing over the strings. His voice moaned and wailed, expressing the deepest sorrows of a condemned sinner.  (Source: Robert Johnson and the Crossroads Curse)

There are two possibilities as to exactly where that spot is.

The Crossroads at 49 & 61

State Street and Desoto Ave.
Clarksdale, MS

Many believe that soul-selling happened right here. Whether it did or not, this site is “the crossroads of the blues”. There’s a gaudy commemorative statue here to memorialize the spot. (61 no longer runs straight through town. But the crossroads remain the same.) Be careful of traffic when trying to get your photo op.

The Crossroads at Rosedale

State Highways 1 & 8
Rosedale, MS
While some say the deal went down at the 49 & 61 crossroads in Clarksdale, others believe that soul-selling happened right here. Fans of the Movie “Crossroads” with Ralph Macchio may recognize this spot. Robert Johnson also sang about Rosedale in his song “Traveling Riverside Blues” (Source: Delta Blues Museum)
“It is a remarkable thing to have been driven and influenced all of my life by the work of one man, and even though I accept that it has always been the keystone of my musical foundation, I still would not regard it as an obsession; instead, I prefer to think of it as a landmark that I navigate by, whenever I feel myself going adrift. I am talking, of course, about the work of Robert Johnson.  Now, after all these years, his music is like my oldest friend, always in the back of my head, and on the horizon. It is the finest music I have ever heard. I have always trusted its purity, and I always will.” – Eric Clapton “Me & Mr. Johnson”