Robert Johnson: Stop Breakin’ Down

Today would have been Robert Johnson’s 99th birthday. I’m not sure what I could ever say about Johnson that hasn’t been said, written or played before. I wanted to put together a post to commemorate the day. But I really didn’t know where to begin, and how to put together something concise that was educational and entertaining in one blog post.

So I decided to do something a little different.

There’s a film called “Stop Breakin’ Down” by Glenn Marzano. This was completed as a thesis project when Marzano was a student at Loyola Marymount University in 1999.

His Synopsis: Who was Robert Johnson?

Everyone who has read, listened or played a Johnson tune, has their viewpoint. The film looks at these varying opinions, and is built around the night of his murder utilizing flashbacks, his relationship with Son House, and two reasons for his rapid guitar skills… One of those being the infamous crossroad legend.

I’ve included Marzano’s full 25 minute short film in this post. It’s extremely well done and thought you might enjoy the story. There are links just below the film that give more information about the project. Please feel free to explore.

Do you have a favorite Robert Johnson song or story? What do you think of the idea of featuring more short films here? I love to hear your comments!

The Blues Blogger

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12 Responses to “Robert Johnson: Stop Breakin’ Down”

  1. Hermitbiker May 8, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

    …. another fantastic showcase, this time of Robert Johnson and a short film too !! AWESOME !! Thanks again Blues Blogger !!

  2. TJ May 9, 2010 at 12:50 am #

    Happy Birthday Robert Johnson…

  3. marcel lemieux May 9, 2010 at 1:22 am #

    Fascinating story…i was totally absorb by that well done video….
    You sure have a talent for presenting talents…lovely post and nice discovery for me…thanks

  4. mottvillemama May 9, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    wonderful post… I always anticipate new post from The Blues Blogger and I’m never let down…
    Thanx so much…

  5. Susan May 9, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    The most stellar thing about this film was that it very subtly showed that we know nothing about the man, Robert Johnson. The film showed the legend…showed a man who was very, very alone — with no personality — just music.

    I’ll bet 1/2 the stars today wish they could achieve that kind of anonymity. Really, really well done and I totally love this type of blog as a diversion from your regular. Wouldn’t want to miss your writing for too long though.

  6. Noor al Haqiqa May 21, 2010 at 5:45 pm #


    On that page you will find my bit on Mr. Johnson but also a pretty darn good painting of him I thought you might like to pick up and use at some time. Robert Johnson is the first musician to declare he sold his soul to the devil for the amazing skill he seemed to develop overnight.

    I have been a big blues fan all my life. In fact, In the mid 60’s I had $10 to spend for my birthday. Went to the local shop and came home with 3 albums, The Doors, Mothers of Invention and John Lee Hooker. All for $10 and enough left over for fries at the local shop.

    Anyhow, salaam.

  7. Coolmon May 23, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

    I enjoyed reading this Robert Johnson post. It is always nice to read about a BB King forerunner.

  8. Nick May 28, 2010 at 7:24 pm #


    Thanks for posting this, I think Robert Johnson was a very fascinating person and I enjoyed reading the article and all of the responses. I also read your more recent post on Jon Nemeth and enjoyed it as well.

    I know this is kind of a shameless plug, but do you think you guys could check out It’s a guitar lesson website for beginners focused mainly on rhythm and strumming.

    There is also an associated site where you get 25 free lessons in exchange for a valid email address.

    Most of the lessons are based on acoustic rock playing, but can easily be applied to playing the blues.

    Thanks again for posting all of the great information and videos, it was truly a pleasure to read your blog!


  9. freqazoidiac June 1, 2010 at 12:44 am #

    Thanks for addressing this amazing short. For this to be Glenn Marzano’s only film (at least listed, on IMDB) it’s excellent.

  10. Nick June 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm #


    Thanks for posting my comment. I hope to be able to contribute more in the future.


  11. Nick June 2, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    P.S. – The web page where you can get 25 free beginner lessons in exchange for a valid email address is located at Thanks again for letting me contribute to your blog.

  12. Tib Fodor November 21, 2010 at 10:06 am #

    Loved the short film, but the mystique about Robert Johnson’s life & music will remain. His music has influenced all the major rock and blues singer gigging today.

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