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Afro-American Music History: Article Review

Afro-American Music History: Article Review

J.N. Nodleman (83) is the author of "Rhetorical Sophistication in Robert Johnson's 'Terraplane Blues,'" which re-examines this composition by a famous African-American blues musician and considers how the lyrics written by Johnson draw upon rhetorical features that are found in the traditional blues stanza. Nodleman (83) considers Johnson's lyrics to be examples of lyric poetry while nevertheless remaining firmly fixed within the context of the blues genre. This particular work by Johnson has been characterized as the artist's signature piece. The author makes note of the fact that at their most basic the lyrics of "Terraplane Blues" describe their author's feeling that his female companion has been unfaithful to him. The metaphor of the automobile used by Johnson is described as relevant to relationships experienced by individuals for whom flexibility and fluidity often lead to pain, suffering, and loss.

Nodleman's (85) article illustrates the importance of Robert Johnson in the context of the African-American blues genre and the ways in which Johnson drew upon popular culture, creating a metaphor in which the automobile stands in for a love object. Johnson's significance in terms of African-American blues history cannot be overestimated. Johnson establishes, said Nodleman (87), the temporal nature of love and its transitory impact upon human beings. Johnson's blues resonated with people for whom even the ownership of the relatively inexpensive Hudson automobile was not always a possibility. Historically, the song expresses the longings of an African-American man for meaning and permanence in his life with the image of the moving vehicle representing the ambivalence which often damaged intimate relationships between men and women.

There are several things that are important about this journal article. First, no one can de


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Afro-American Music History: Article Review. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:23, May 24, 2020, from