Monday, 22 February 2010

This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject

Legend and mythology sit uneasily with encyclopaedic ambitions. Or so it seems with the Wikipedia entry on Robert Johnson. The page is filled with tantalising snippets, for example that ‘In 1941, Alan Lomax learned from a very shy Muddy Waters that Johnson had performed in the Clarksdale, Mississippi area.’ The Lomax/Waters encounter itself would qualify as a mythical precursor to the discipline of ethnomusicology, were in it not that Lomax undoubtedly documented it in sufficient detail to secure its status as historical fact. And the ‘Robert Johnson disambiguation’ index points out something that I not thought of before: the reason why the composer and musicologist Robert Sherlaw Johnson insisted on the use of his middle name. Oh, and the bluesman was Robert Leroy Johnson by the way, if ever the two musicians crop up in the same context outside of Wikipedia. But there is a worrying disclaimer at the top of the Robert Johnson page reading ‘This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject’. I assume that they just want somebody to even up the style at bit, but it doesn’t exactly instil confidence in the authority of what follows. Here’s to the joys of user-generated content.

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