SLS- Not So Sweet

Spice it Up

Today I was inspired by Jim’s prompt ” Spice it up ” to choose a song that is a little more earthy, a little bit darker then songs about sweet, warm and inviting spices.

Hellhound by Robert Johnson is a song about a man who is being chased by demons- one way to ward them off ( for a little while ) was to sprinkle hot foot powder at his door.

Hot foot powder consisted of chili powder, pepper, salt and chili flakes and this mixture was suppose to keep evil from crossing into your home.

It certainly sounds like it could do the trick and you can actually buy hot foot powder on line.

But like most folklore, a lot of these stories, have roots in reality. Like this song, though not in the way you might assume.

Recently I saw a documentary about Robert Johnson on Netflix and one of the stories they told about this song was to keep this in mind: Robert Johnson’s stepfather was lynched and that this song, when looked at through that lens tells a truly hellacious tale.

This song is a song about the fear of being chase into an endless night by a lynch mob and bloodhounds.

One side note I heard in the documentary was that sometimes peppers and chili powder were used in the hope of throwing the bloodhounds off of your scent.

So I would recommend listening to this song and letting the references about Hellhounds and a tortured soul chasing each through a cemetery, maybe a forest play across your mind. It’s going to be very Halloween-ish and safe.

But if you dare, imagine for just a few minutes you are Robert Johnson recording this song in Texas in 1937- and what images he had in mind as he sang it.

[Verse 1]
I got to keep movin’, I got to keep movin
Blues fallin’ down like hail, blues fallin’ down like hail
Umm mmm mmm mmm
Blues fallin’ down like hail, blues fallin’ down like hail
And the days keeps on worryin’ me
There’s a hellhound on my trail, hellhound on my trail
Hellhound on my trail

[Verse 2]
If today was Christmas Eve, if today was Christmas Eve
And tomorrow was Christmas Day
If today was Christmas Eve and tomorrow was Christmas Day
Aw, wouldn’t we have a time, baby?
All I would need my little sweet rider
Just to pass the time away, huh huh, to pass the time away

[Verse 3]
You sprinkled hot foot powder, mmm mmm, around my door
All around my door
You sprinkled hot foot powder all around your daddy’s door, hmm hmm hmm
It keep me with ramblin’ mind, rider every old place I go
Every old place I go

[Verse 4]
I can tell the wind is risin’ the leaves tremblin’ on the tree
Tremblin’ on the tree
I can tell the wind is risin’, leaves tremblin’ on the tree
Hmm hmm hmm mmm
All I need’s my little sweet woman and to keep my company, hey hey hey hey
My company


They Lynching Blues: Robert Johnson’s Hellhound On My Trail As a Lynching Ballad