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Up Jumped the Devil  By  cover art

Up Jumped the Devil

By: Bruce Conforth,Gayle Dean Wardlow
Narrated by: Leon Nixon
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Publisher's summary

Robert Johnson is the subject of the most famous myth about the blues: he allegedly sold his soul at the crossroads in exchange for his incredible talent, and this deal led to his death at age 27. But the actual story of his life remains unknown save for a few inaccurate anecdotes. 

Up Jumped the Devil is the result of over 50 years of research. Gayle Dean Wardlow has been interviewing people who knew Robert Johnson since the early 1960s, and he was the person who discovered Johnson's death certificate in 1967. Bruce Conforth began his study of Johnson's life and music in 1970 and made it his mission to fill in what was still unknown about him. In this definitive biography, the two authors relied on every interview, resource, and document, most of it material no one has seen before. As a result, this book not only destroys every myth that ever surrounded Johnson, but also tells a human story of a real person. It is the first book about Johnson that documents his years in Memphis, details his trip to New York, uncovers where and when his wife Virginia died and the impact this had on him, fully portrays the other women Johnson was involved with, and tells exactly how and why he died and who gave him the poison that killed him. Up Jumped the Devil will astonish blues fans who thought they knew something about Johnson.

©2019 Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about Up Jumped the Devil

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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing

This answers so many questions about Johnson's life and adds understanding to his records. It would have been better with musical examples, so grab a copy of the box set to follow along in the chapters about the recordings in Texas. Like another listener, I felt that though the reader had a good vibe, his pace was plodding and I had to crank him up to 1.25X.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Must listen for blues fans

I have gone most of My adult life being a huge Robert Johnson fan. I was always under the impression that nothing was known about him. Most of what I knew about him Came from the movie Crossroads and a handful of light documentaries.

Enter this book. Many hours of details stitched together wonderfully. The information seemed credible and it provided great context for the music that I know so well and love so much. I particularly liked the break down of the lyrics that I never put much thought into.

My only hang up was the narration. Wow. Can you say boring? I sped it up to 1.25 and that made it tolerable.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Whoever loves music should read/listen to this.

I have gone through and loved many genres of music in my 40 years on this pale blue dot, but the blues... As Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones once said "The only good thing America has gave to the world is the Blues."
I think this book is a must-read for anyone who loves music and especially anyone who loves the blues.
I want to thank the author and the person who read it aloud and the people who put it together to be in audiobook format where I could enjoy this. Thank you.
Robert Johnson has forever changed the landscape of music it will always be one of my heroes.

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unique story!

Greatest story in american music history. A true breakthrough in the research about Robert Johnson. I really enjoyed the whole book!

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Excellent informative empathetic story

Brings Johnson to life in a way that helps enrich his music. I hear his music in ways I didn't before, thank you for giving Robert his life back.

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Cut through the myths and get to the facts

This book lays out the facts of Johnson’s life in a clear and compelling manner. It’s a real case of the facts being far more interesting and relatable than the myth.

The narrator does a great job interpreting the quotes of locals who knew Johnson. Trying to capture the local vernacular could’ve come off hokey or even offensive. But in this case it’s neither. You can easily discern between the narration of the story and the quotes - that is the shift is evident - but it’s handled sensitively and compellingly leading to a more engaging telling.

A great history told and narrated well.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Turgid Narration of well researched book

Interesting narrative and excellently researched. I am glad that I listened to it, but I found the narration maddeningly slow. It also included repetitions that were presented in such a way as I could not tell if a person quoted had repeated herself or it was an error. The detailed factual research about Johnson is the payoff. Though the authors clearly enjoyed dispelling the myths about Johnson, they really belabored the “sold his soul at the crossroads” fable as though most readers thought the tall tale to be entirely likely. I also thought they read too much autobiography into the lyrics of the few songs he recorded. It reminded me of folks who try to find the real Shakespeare in his plays. Ending on a positive note, in addition to making a noble attempt to reconstruct the blues man’s life, the authors also provide excellent cultural context for Johnson’s time and place.

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Lame

This is one of the lamest books I’ve listened to. I wouldn’t I waste your time.

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heading

narrator was perfect choice. narrator was the perfect choice. narrator was the perfect choice narrator dogs

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Excellent book

This was an excellent factual book regarding the life and death of the late great Robert Johnson. Not theory’s or rumors but facts taken from original sources.
Fantastic book!!!

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