♫ The Devil Went Down To Georgia ♫

As I’ve said on more than one occasion, I am not a fan of country music.  However, when a legend dies, no matter his field, he deserves to be honoured.  Charlie Daniels was a country music legend best known for his award-winning country hit The Devil Went Down to Georgia.

Daniels was active as a singer and musician since the 1950s. He was inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame in 2002, the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

Daniels won the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1979 for The Devil Went Down to Georgia, which reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1979. The following year, “Devil” became a major crossover success on rock radio stations after its inclusion on the soundtrack for the hit movie Urban Cowboy, in which he made an onscreen appearance. The song still receives regular airplay on U.S. classic rock and country stations.

Although Daniels had a number of hits subsequent to The Devil Went Down to Georgia, this is the only one of his songs that I am familiar with, not being a country music aficionado.  And even though I am not a fan of the genre, I am in awe of the fiddle-playing in this song!

Daniels said that the idea for this song came from a poem he read in high school called “The Mountain Whippoorwill” by Stephen Vincent Benet. Said Daniels:

“We had gone in and rehearsed, written, and recorded the music for our Million Mile Reflections album, and all of a sudden we said, ‘We don’t have a fiddle song.’ I don’t know why we didn’t discover that, but we went out and we took a couple of days’ break from the recording studio, went into a rehearsal studio and I just had this idea: ‘The Devil went down to Georgia.’ The idea may have come from an old poem that Stephen Vincent Benet wrote many, many years ago. He didn’t use that line, but I just started, and the band started playing, and first thing you know we had it down.”

In this song, Satan himself pays a visit to Georgia and challenges a boy named Johnny to a fiddle duel: If Johnny can play the fiddle better than the devil, he gets a golden fiddle, but if he loses, the devil gets his soul.  It was Daniels who played the fiddle for both the Devil and Johnny, and it was also Daniels who dreamed up what they both would sound like.

I actually do like this song … as I said, the fiddle playing is amazing, and it’s got a catchy, toe-tapping tune.  Politically, Charlie and I were miles apart, but that doesn’t keep me from admiring what he did, his talent, his music.  Charlie Daniels died yesterday at the age of 83.  His music will live on …

The Devil Went Down to Georgia
Charlie Daniels Band

The devil went down to Georgia
He was lookin’ for a soul to steal
He was in a bind
‘Cause he was way behind
And he was willin’ to make a deal

When he came upon this young man
Sawin’ on a fiddle and playin’ it hot
And the devil jumped
Up on 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

Then 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, old son
But sit down in that chair right there
And let me show you how it’s done”

He played Fire on the Mountain run boys, run
The devil’s in the House of the Rising Sun
Chicken in a bread pan pickin’ 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 want to try again
I done told you once you son of a bitch
I’m the best that’s ever been”

He played Fire on the Mountain run boys, run
The devil’s in the House of the Rising Sun
Chicken in a bread pan pickin’ out dough
Granny, does your dog bite? No child, no

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Charles Fred Hayward / Charlie Daniels / Fred Edwards / James W. Marshall / John Crain / William J. Digregorio
The Devil Went Down to Georgia lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

23 thoughts on “♫ The Devil Went Down To Georgia ♫

  1. Jill, thanks for sharing this. Daniels was a storyteller first and foremost. This song is just one example. He is more of country rock singer than country, at least when he started.

    My favorite is the song “Uneasy rider,” where Daniels long haired traveling character has a flat tire in an unknown small town and steps into a diner. He tucked his hair under his hat, but it spills out and he is cornered by the locals. He spins a story about one of his potential assailants being a FBI spy. It is quite entertainng,. He will be missed. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A very fitting tribute to Charlie Daniels! I must admit that I was never a fan of the Charlie Daniels Band and never even heard this song ( my apologies to Mr. Daniels) until after Mark O’Connor released “The Devil Comes Back to Georgia” on his September 14, 1993 album “Heroes”. I was a fan of O’Connor since the late 70’s, most recently of “Mark and Maggie Duo.”, the CD on which he plays duets with his wife. The “Heroes” album has O’Connor playing duets with over a dozen of his childhood fiddle heroes and Daniels is amongst them. The song features Johnny Cash as the narrator with Daniels and O’Connor as the fiddlers for the characters of Johnny and the Devil. You must find it on YouTube, the visual with the music makes it even better! Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not into country music, either, but had heard this one many times, and actually rather like it. Now, would you believe that until tonight, I had not heard of Mark O’Connor??? I am feeling woefully culturally ignorant tonight! I will look for that version in the morning! Hugs!

      Like

  3. This is the first song that I heard that was censored. We were on our way to Gatlinburg the summer it was popular. It seemed like it was on every radio station that my Dad tuned in. But they played the one that said “son of a gun”. Then a radio station played it and it said “son of a bitch”. That one is my favorite version. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

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