hellhound music

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Robert Johnson and His Deal with the Devil

Robert Johnson, or at least the mythical version of him, is pervasive in American pop culture. He is considered a “Faustian” character, which essentially means the story surrounding him involves making a deal with Mephistopheles (a demon) or Satan himself. Deals like these typically were said to take place at crossroads, often seen as a metaphorical or actual liminal space, a place where change happens.

The legend goes that Johnson fell distraught after his first wife died in childbirth and he turned to his love of music to cope but he was horrible at the guitar with an unpleasant voice. Johnson was said to have disappeared for a length of time and then returned with great musical skill and a wonderful, mournful singing voice. At a crossroads, marked with the three guitar statue (above), Johnson supposedly met a man who gave him these abilities–in return for his soul. People point to some of his songs like “Cross Road Blues” and “Hell Hound on My Trail” as evidence that he had made the deal with the devil and the hellhounds were there to collect.

Johnson only recorded three records and died at the age of 27 in 1938 due to “mysterious” stomach pains. Of course, the legend would have us believe that the Devil had come to collect his dues. Most people, however, believe that he was poisoned (one way or another) due to flirting with or having an affair with a married woman. Either way, he died very young after putting out only a little bit of music and had only a couple of photos ever taken of him. He’s a figure shrouded in mystery due to how little is known about him but he lives on in our collective imagination, still recognized as the King of the Delta Blues.

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Cryptid ABCs: Hellhound

A Hellhound is a beast of legend. These creatures are supposedly dogs sent from Hell itself for a variety of purposes, but they mostly seem to just terrorize the living.

Hellhounds are usually described as giant black dogs with blazing hellfire red eyes. Sharp fangs and massive paws also seem to be consistently reported. These demonic pups also are reported to have a foul, sulfuric stench and super speed and strength. In some cases, they are aggressive and will attack, but in other tales they were benign, but still were considered an omen.

Legend has it that if a person sees a Hellhound three times they will die. Legend does not specify whether it has to be the same Hellhound each time or not. A Hellhound can also simply be a sign of misfortune, or even the death of a loved one. In some mythology, a Hellhound will collect the soul of anyone who sold their soul to the Devil. Hellhounds may also guard cemetery gates and entrances to the underworld.

Some legendary Hellhounds include the Black Shuck (notable for killing people and scorching a church door), the Cú Sith (an Irish black dog), and El Cadejo (A Latin black dog, which may not be a Hellhound at all). Perhaps the most famous Hellhound is Cerberus, a Greek three headed black dog who guarded the underworld.

Hellhounds are also a staple in modern pip culture and music. “Hellhound on my Trail” is a Robert Johnson song, although he may be a bad example because rumor has it he sold his soul, so of course he’d write about it. The television series “Supernatural” also features Hellhounds.

  • Mom: Ok, carry on
  • Me:
  • Mom:
  • Me:
  • Me: CArrY ON MY WayWaRD SOOONN~~
  • Mom:
  • Me: THere'LL BE PeaCE WHEn yOU ARE DoonnEEE~~
  • Mom: whu
  • Me: LAAYYY YOU'RE WearrrY HEAD TO rreesstttTT~~
  • Mom: stop
  • Me: DONnnttT YOU Cry no morreee~~
  • Mom: you're crazy
  • Me: [mimes guitar solo] DDoottlledootdootdwardwarDDWAARRR
  • Mom: Im leaving now
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The misadventures of GROWLEY & SQUIRREL

um, yeah… I guess, my hand slipped?