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We're So Far Downstream from Culture that We're in Hell

Robert Johnson is often considered the first rock musician and one of the godfathers of the Mississippi Delta blues.  Though his entire recording career spanned a mere seven months between 1936 and 1937, and though he achieved relatively little commercial success in his lifetime, Johnson is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.  Legend has it that this relative unknown met the devil at a crossroads and traded his soul for musical talent.  He sang about it in his 1936 song "Cross Road Blues."

Whether or not Mr. Johnson actually met the devil at a crossroads and traded his soul for fame is debatable.  More recent interviews with musicians, like the 2009 60 Minutes interview with Bob Dylan, fuel the fire on discussions of whether or not men can trade their literal souls for earthly fame.   Whether merely a metaphor for trading all of one's self for stardom or a literal Faustian bargain, few would debate that there is a soul-sucking element to fame that robs the famous of their humanity.

A troubling aspect of our national culture is an ever-creeping slide into debasement.  In this slide, we traded a cultural soul in pursuit of wholesomeness for a much darker version.  There was a time when Elvis gyrating on television was on par with the red light districts of Amsterdam.  Today, artists performing ritualistic, occult ceremonies is chalked up to ...