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August 22

Remembering Charlie Daniel’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”

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Written and performed by Charlie Daniels and the Charlie Daniels Band in 1979, It was August 21 1979 that ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ earned its gold status.

Considered as a bluegrass classic, the song chronicles the disappointment of a Devil after a failed attempt to steal a man’s heart named Johnny through a fiddle playing contest. It basically gives a tune and melody to the basic concept of ‘deal with the devil’ that combines humor and metaphor at the same time. On one of his interviews, Charlie Daniels clarified how the song’s lyrics and idea were formed:

“I don’t know where it came from, but it just did. Well, I think I might know where it came from, it may have come from an old poem called ‘The Mountain Whippoorwill’ that Stephen Vincent Benétwrote many, many years ago (1925), that I had in high school.”

Watch the music video below:

“The Devil Went Down To Georgia”

The Devil went down to Georgia. He was lookin’ for a soul to steal.
He was in a bind ’cause he was way behind. He was willing to make a deal
When he came across this young man sawin’ on a fiddle and playin’ it hot.
And the Devil jumped upon a hickory stump and said “Boy, let me tell you what.”

“I guess you didn’t know it, but I’m a fiddle player, too.
And if you’d care to take a dare I’ll make a bet with you.
Now you play a pretty good fiddle, boy, but give the Devil his due.
I’ll bet a fiddle of gold against your soul ’cause I think I’m better than you.”

The boy said, “My name’s Johnny, and it might be a sin,
But I’ll take your bet; and you’re gonna regret ’cause I’m the best there’s ever been.”

Johnny, rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard.
‘Cause Hell’s broke loose in Georgia and the Devil deals the cards.
And if you win you get this shiny fiddle made of gold,
But if you lose the devil gets your soul.

The Devil opened up his case and he said, “I’ll start this show.”
And fire flew from his fingertips as he rosined up his bow.
And he pulled the bow across the strings and it made an evil hiss.
And a band of demons joined in and it sounded something like this.

When the Devil finished, Johnny said, “Well, you’re pretty good ol’ son,
But sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it’s done.”

“Fire on the Mountain.” Run, boys, run!
The Devil’s in the house of the rising sun;
Chicken’s in the bread pan picking out dough.
Granny, does your dog bite? No, child, no.

The Devil bowed his head because he knew that he’d been beat.
And he laid that golden fiddle on the ground at Johnny’s feet.
Johnny said, “Devil, just come on back. If you ever wanna try again,
I done told you once—you son of a bitch—I’m the best that’s ever been.”
And he played:

“Fire on the Mountain.” Run, boys, run!
The Devil’s in the house of the rising sun;
The chicken’s in the bread pan picking out dough.
Granny, will your dog bite? No, child, no.

 


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Charlie Daniels, The Devil Went Down To Georgia


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