Robbie Robertson has a sense about ‘How to Become Clairvoyant’

Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

There’s a track on Robbie Robertson‘s new album, “How to Become Clairvoyant,” that’s destined to generate buzz among guitar aficionados, not just for the sincerity with which Robertson pays homage to a litany of the instrument’s great practitioners but for the company the celebrated musician chose to help out on it.

That song, “The Axman,” name-checks many who are no longer living, and one who remains: Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Django Reinhardt, T-Bone Walker, Link Wray, Duane Allman, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Elmore James and three Kings of the blues — Albert, Freddie and B.B. — casting the Axman’s place in the world in near-mythological terms:

“He came across the border / With a hatchet in his hand / They said ‘Who’s that stranger? / The one they call the Axman?'” Robertson sings in a spectral whisper. A lot of music fans and critics would say that Robertson’s own name belongs up there with those others in the guitar-hero pantheon for his tasteful, inventive work over a couple of decades with the Band and on his infrequent solo records.