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Monday, December 14, 2015

San Antonio - The Alamo - Gunter Hotel - Robert Johnson

The Alamo is everything you expect -well done - sacred

We are having a fantastic mileage trip to Texas. We left Tallahassee at 6 AM - slept through two first class upgrades - and landed in San Antonio at 10 AM. A quick rental car trip got us to the Alamo in minutes. 

Texans worship the Alamo - and it is very nicely presented. The grounds are pretty - and locally it is looked upon religiously like most Americans respect Valley Forge. When I studied the Alamo in school - I was mainly interested in Davy Crockett fighting there in a Walt Disney movie. 

As simply as I can make it - the Mexican/American border has always been a trouble spot due to religion - race - and guns. In the 1830s - Santa Anna had the idea of blocking the border long before Don Trump's Wall. Texas was part of Mexico for centuries and he wanted to keep the immigrants out because they insisted on bringing their slaves into Mexico. The Americans wanted to change the rules.

The Alamo was an old Spanish Mission where the Catholics kept the Indians they converted to their religion. The Americans seized the Alamo and stole a Spanish cannon to defend it. The Tex-Americans defiantly flew a flag saying - Come and Get It - referring to the cannon. Santa Anna gave them their wish. With 2000 soldiers he stormed the Alamo - killing the 200 or so defenders. Any men left over were lined up and shot. It was a miserable massacre - a terrible defeat of the Texans. But it stirred up the people - causing them to eventually defeat Santa Anna.

From 1836 to 1845 - Texas was its own country - with slaves. Soon the other southern states needed another state to enter the union as a slave state - thus Texas became a state. It was added to even out the country - slave or free. Since then - Texas has drawn way more money from the USA - than they ever paid in taxes. Texas became a state in 1845 - then just 15 years later they fought to leave the country. The fight again was over the right to keep their slaves. 

Another relative secret about San Antonio is the relationship with Robert Johnson. If you are a Blues or Rock and Roll fan - you know about the Grandfather of Rock and Roll. In the 1930s - Robert Johnson - was a Blues guitarist that bummed the South playing at juke joints - Black dance halls. 

In 1936 - Johnson was in San Antonio. A local record company convinced him to come to the Gunter Hotel - and record some songs. In Room 414 - they set up a studio - Johnson facing the wall to create a special sound. The recorder was set up in Room 413 next door. There were 2 sessions in the Gunter Hotel - then 2 others in Dallas. Johnson got a total of $25 for the 2 recording sessions. He only recorded 29 songs in all. But many artists - like Eric Clapton - the Rolling Stones - John Mellancamp - recognize Robert Johnson as the Grandfather roof their music.

This is the plaque in our hotel lobby - Robert Johnson

While walking along the river here - I remembered the story about Johnson recording here. That is all Lulu needed to find the hotel - go there - and convince the clerk to give us Room 412 - the one right next to the famed recording room. When I went out in the hall to park the car - the maid was cleaning Room 414. She let us in to take pictures. All night long my mind wandered thru the Birth of the Blues on the other side of the wall. 

In 2001 - John Mellancamp came here to record the album As Good As It Gets. 

Robert Johnson recorded almost all of his 29 songs here
This is Room 414 - where Robert Johnson
recorded Sweet Home Chicago - and Love in Vain -
and many more
Robert Johnson sat and faced the wall while recording 
The River Walk is a world tourist sight 
The convention center along the river - a great river boat ride

Hellhounds on My Trail - hey you guys - turn it down
- I am trying to sleep!

This song was recorded just 3 feet from where I am typing this story.

These guys were making a bunch of noise on the other side of the wall.

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