Our 10 Best versions of “Crossroads,” takes a look at various musical artists who have covered the legendary Robert Johnson song entitled “Crossroads.” The song was originally titled “Cross Roads Blues.” However, over time many people have recorded the song under the title “Crossroads,” after Cream’s famous version released in 1968. Some of the history behind the song is a bit ambiguous. Supposedly, Robert Johnson composed the song in the early 1930s. There has been much debate written over the meaning of the song. Southern folklore has suggested that the song was based on the myth of selling one’s soul to the devil for fame and fortune. The Crossroads signified the point of decision for the artist as to what’s more important. Others have argued that the song reflects social issues and even degrees of loneliness.
Robert Johnson was one of the first blues artist to have been recorded. The song “Cross Road Blues,” was first recorded in 1936 . It was released in 1937 on a vinyl 78 record by the Vocalion label which was owned by Brunswick Records. When researching the story of rock and roll, the release of Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues,” stands as one of its most pivotal moments.
# 10 – Rush
We open up our 10 best versions of Crossroads with one of our favorite bands of all time. This one one will also come as a surprise as Rush has never been known or even thought of as blues band. Pretty much quite the opposite. Yet, brilliant musicianship always shines. What we love most about this great performance is watching Alex Lifeson really let loose. He seems to really enjoy just being able to solo without restriction which is usually not the case with Rush music because of its complexity. This one will blow you away. It was a shock when Rush released an album of 1960s covers, but this performance is very telling………
# 9 – Stephen Stills
Continuing with our 10 best version of “Crossroads,” we head way down south to Dallas, Texas born Stephen Stills. The legendary artist and also founding member member of Crosby Stills and Nash and sometimes Young’s did a great version of “Crossroads,” that bled into the song “You Can’t Catch Me.” The live version was released on the album Stephen Stills Live. The record was released in 1975,
# 8 – Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton
In a very rare moment, see Bob Dylan smile. We have seen Bob Dylan many times and this was the first time where it seemed he was really enjoying himself on stage or at least showing that he was really enjoying himself on stage. This great performance of Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton was recorded live at Eric Clapton’s 1999 Crossroads Festival.
# 7 – Robin Trower
Any list that looks at classic guitar orientated songs like “Crossroads,” would not be complete without a representation from Robin Trower. One of classic rock’s greatest guitarists recorded his version of “Crossroads,” on his album titled Someday Blues. The album was released in 1997. Robin Trower brings a swing feel to his version that works magnificently. How could it not? it’s Robin Trower.
# 6 – John Hammond Jr.
Son of legendary record producer John Hammond, the great blues musician John Hammond Jr. gets closer to Robert Johnson’s version than any of the other versions on this list except for of course, Robert Johnson’s. The recording presented here appears on the album John Hammond Jr., John Hammond – At the Crossroads: Blues of Robert Johnson. The album was released in 2003. The album contained cover versions of only Robert Johnson songs which the album cover clearly depicts
# 5 – JEFF HEALEY BAND
Do you remember when Jeff Healey burst onto the rock scene in 1988 with his fabulous album See The Light? It was one of those great moments in rock and roll history when a major new talent that was so genuine exploded onto the scene and turned heads instantly. In 2011, Eagle Rock released the Jeff Healey album Live at Grossman’s 1994. The record contained a smoking version of “Crossroads,” which we present here.
# 4 – Lynyrd Skynyrd
The original version of Lynyrd Skynyrd could have recorded a version of “Row Row Row Your Boat,” and we all would have fell in love it. The sound of that 1970’s Lynyrd Skynyrd Band with Ronnie Van Zant on lead vocals and the amazing guitar work of Steve Gaines, Allen Collins and Gary Rossington produced a sound that we all went crazy over. Throw in the great Billy Powell on piano, Leon Wilkeson on bass and Artimus Pyle on drums and you had one of classic rock’s greatest bands of all time. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s version of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads,” was released on their mega selling live album One More from the Road. The two record set was originally released in 1976.
# 3 – Dixie Dregs, Warren Haynes & John Scofield
We have always been big fans of the Dixie Dregs. The great band that featured the incredible guitar work of Steve Morse has released a catalog of killer records. Just the mention of the Dixie Dregs performing “Crossroads,” live wold have piqued our interest. However, when we discovered this live version that also featured Warren Haynes and John Scofield we basically dropped everything to take a listen. The solos in this one are to die for. John Scofield takes an extended solo that blends his mix of jazz, blues and rock like only he can play. Its a mesmerizing solo that will have you hitting the rewind button as soon as it comes to an end. Warren Haynes steps up to the plate and then trades solos with Scofiled that will blow your rock and roll mind.
# 2 – Robert Johnson
There is a reason why we didn’t title this article “cover versions of the song Crossroads,” but rather just best versions of the songs “Crossroads.” The reason is simple. We wanted to include the original Robert Johnson version on this list. It’s very interesting to hear the original to compare to all the other versions of the song.
# 1 – Cream
We close out our 10 best versions of the song “Crossroads,” with Cream’s legendary live performance of the song. In many ways , it Cream’s version that inspired countless rock bands to cover this classic song. Eric Clapton has always been a student of the blues, but early on he became more of a teacher of it. Cream’s version of “Crossroads,” was a master class in reinterpreting blues songs much in the way Led Zeppelin reinvented many classic blues riffs and lyrics. There are many versions of “Crossroads,” done by Cream, but we felt the best recording was released as the opening track on their double LP Wheels Of Fire in 1968.
YOU LEFT OUT THE RY COODER VERSION
30+- years ago i lived for a time in Parker, CO. I heard rumor Ginger Baker had retired nearby to his private horse farm at his retirement from Cream. on my way home from work one afternoon, sitting at a stop light, a big pickup truck with a 2 horse trailer behind it. pulled up to the light, I looked over at the truck and just then driver looked over at me, i realized It’s Ginger Baker! I gave him a big thumbs up, he laughed gave me a return salute, the light turned green and he turned left and i went right down the road to my house: Never saw him again.