Selling Your Soul for Musical Talent

Hello all…

 I am well aware of the stories of the "crossroads" of Mississippi where Robert Johnson might have sold his soul in exchange for talent. However, I was just given a CD of Paganini's 24 Caprices and the liner notes claim that people believed that he too sold his soul for music talent - so obviously this story line goes well back before Delta bluesmen.

My question is, how far back does this belief go? I thought it started with the blues players, but apparently it goes back much farther. Is there one story that “started” the belief that someone could sell a soul in exchange for talent? I don’t remember that deal being one that is offered in the Bible.


The snozberries taste like snozberries!

I would urge you to read the gospel according to Matthew. In chapter 4:

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

So actually Jesus was offered a better deal than Robert Johnson or Paganini.

J’ai assez vécu pour voir que différence engendre haine.
Henri B. Stendhal

For the record (no pun intended), the blues folklore goes like this…

You take your guitar to the crossroads at midnight, and sit there playing. At some point, a tall dark man will approach you, take your guitar from you, and tune it. Then he’ll play a piece. You take the guitar back from him, and the deal is made. You’ll be able to do anything you want with that guitar.

I always wondered what the hell you had to do if you were a blues piano player…

Speaking of pianists, I think Franz Liszt, a spectacular technician, was also suspected of being in league with the devil. Then he entered the clergy, and confirmed it.


i can’t think of a musician that hasn’t sold his soul. except for james brown, he’s still got it.

Does that work for ANY crossroads? My roommate wants to be able to play like Flea. We’re wondering if there are specific crossroads you have to go to, or what. If so, I know what I’ll be doing for Spring Break.

“There are many sweeping generalizations that are always true” -Space Ghost

Considering the price of pianos, I think you’re going to have to worry about selling things other than your soul to be a success.

Where’s Satan when ya need him? Satan, get yer ass in here and give us the straight dope.

“The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.” - Humphrey Bogart


Well, I’ll try it tonight at the crossroads of Flatbush and Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn. I’ll bring my saxophone.

If the Tall Dark Man is able to tune it, I’ll be in possession of the first tuned tenor sax in the history of music…

Hammered dulcimer players all still have their souls. They sit at the crossroads hammering away, the tall dark man comes up to them, takes one look at their instruments, says “No way I’m going to tune that” and walks off.

The only musician who offered to sell me their souls was Stryper. Talk about irony…

Yer pal,