“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band

Song of the Week

May 20, 2018

Written by Charlie Daniels, Charles Fred Hayward, Fred Edwards, James W. Marshall, John Crain & William J. Digregorio
Produced by John Boylen
Recorded in Nashville at Woodland Sound Studios
Released on the LP Million Mile Reflections in January 1979

Perhaps the most popular song by The Charlie Daniels Band, this 1979 classic hit fuses several genres, such as country, bluegrass, funk and rock with an interesting lyrical story, all working to make this a very successful pop song.

Charlie Daniels Band, 1979

The story derives from rural folklore of a fiddle-playing contest between a bold young musician named Johnny and the devil himself, who wagers a fiddle of gold against Johnny’s soul. Ultimately, Johnny wins and proclaims so in the (then) controversial final lyric, “I’ve told you once, you son of a bitch, I’m the best that’s ever been!”

Song Lyrics

The Devil went down to Georgia,
He was looking 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
Sawing on a fiddle and playing 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 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, 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’ll 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 blew from his fingertips as he rosined up his bow
And he pulled the bow across the strings and it made an evil hiss
Then 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!”

Fire on the Mountain, run, boys, run
The Devil´s in the house of the rising sun
Chicken in the bread pan a 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 want to try again,
I done told you once, you son of a bitch, I’m the best there´s ever been”

He played, Fire on the Mountain, run, boys, run
The Devil’s in the house of the rising sun
Chicken in the breadpan a picking out dough,
Granny will your dog bite, “No, child, no”

Watch “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”:

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Charlie Daniels Band website
Buy Million Mile Reflections


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