Saturday, July 14, 2012

Song of the Day - Devil Went Down to Georgia - Charlie Daniels

"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"
Come on, any song that starts like this, cannot be anything but awesome - which is why this is our song of the day today! 
The song is about the devil trying to steal the soul of a talented violinist, and failing. It's a very fun song to listen to, and fun to dance around to. It's quite a simple premise but it was carried out spectacularly, with the violin's song telling the majority of the story much better than words could explain it.

Now, what about those lyrics in the chorus, that Johnny is singing?

"He played, 'Fire on the Mountain', run boys, run
The Devil's in the House of the Rising Sun
Chicken in the bread pan pickin' at dough
Granny does your dog bite? No child, no"

Some people online think that the song was meant to represent the conflict Charlie Daniels faced, feeling drawn to rock but being a Southerner. The two elements that would suggest such an explanation for the song, are the Devil's violin solo and Johnny's chorus part. The song was written back when Southerners apparently viewed rock as "the devil's music" (or so sayeth the internet). During the Devil's violin part, he is backed by a band of demons wielding electric guitars; Johnny, as a contrast, brings out the most down-home, country lyrics imaginable, with a folksy rhythm to his playing. It's hard to tell if that was the case or not, though...

Another theory people have about this song is that really, the Devil was victorious after all, and that Johnny's soul was his as part of the contract the moment Johnny agreed to the little competition. This is evidenced by the first line, that the Devil wasn't looking for a soul to win but a soul to steal. However, to me, the song feels like the Devil got his arse-kicking, took it like a man, and held up his end of the deal; otherwise it would not have ended on so high-spirited a note. It is more plausible that if the Devil had won that competition, we'd have gotten a bit more of that lovely solo of his.

My interpretation is a bit more boring. What if the Devil in this song is that ghostly voice in your head that keeps pushing you to compete with others, because you don't feel like you are good enough for something, or good enough for someone? What if, the only way to defeat him, is to say, "Fuck you, motherfucker, I got this, and there's no one better at this than me, so shut up!" 

Just a thought...

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