The Devil Went Down to Georgia

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Artist representation of the alleged "golden fiddle", which appears to be a bluegrass model, The Devil's preferred choice.

"The Devil Went Down to Georgia" is a 1979 country song which tells of a series of dramatic events,[1] famously told by the Charlie Daniels Band (noted as being the group's only hit). According to the song, the Devil apparently took a trip to Georgia. Subsequent acts of fiddling, lust, and certain moral decay would occur and would result in a court case, a semi-autobiographical novel, and the scarring of the American music industry forever.

In recent years, The Devil has come forward with claims of historical merit to the story, but has attested certain aspects of the song to the fullest extent. Charlie Daniels and the rest of the band remain adamant that their recollection of the events is true, as does The Devil.

Despite the details, what is for certain is The Devil did indeed go down to Georgia. The funny thing about the whole "down to Georgia" thing is that this suggests Georgia is below Hell. It is.

Underlying events

Basically, The Devil went down to Georgia looking for "a soul to steal". However, this is not a theft under Georgia law, as The Devil would make a deal with young Johnny. The Devil has repeatedly claimed libel and slander against the Charlie Daniels Band based on this inaccurate lyric, which resulted in The Devil vs. The State of Georgia, which Georgia won, fining The Devil $20,000, which The Devil repaid in gold fiddles.

At any rate, The Devil reportedly spotted Johnny playing with his fiddle. Enticed by the sight of young Johnny playing with his fiddle, The Devil approached cautiously. He informed young Johnny that he was a "fiddle player" as well, and made a deal with Johnny: his soul for a gold fiddle. As charismatic and God-hating as he was, Johnny accepted.

To summarize the events, The Devil "lost" (see below). Having never taken formal lessons like Johnny had (mostly because he grew up in an underprivileged suburb[2]), The Devil quite frankly was okay, but not that impressive. To make things worse, The Devil really couldn't afford to be giving away gold fiddles. Looking back on the events, The Devil is quoted as stating the following:

Ya' know, I was in some financial trouble back then. Still am, but back then it was "trouble". Now it's the norm. I refer to this as my "dark period", hence why I was in Georgia browsing around for cheap souls. They sell for around $300 a piece. It varies from person to person though. A person like Dakota Fanning might go for about $200.

Lyrical analysis

The Devil went down to Georgia,
he was looking for a soul to steal,
For those without comedic tastes, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about The Devil Went Down to Georgia.

Some may come to the conclusion that The Devil initially went to Georgia for the sole purpose of "stealing" souls, when in fact, that is not the case. The Devil was in fact meeting his pen pal, Devyn, for the first time.[3]

He was in a bind 'cause he was way behind:
he was willin' to make a deal.

The Devil wasn't "way behind" on anything. And of course he was willing to make a deal. He's a very reasonable guy. Likes to haggle a lot, but reasonable.

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 bet a fiddle of gold against your soul, 'cause I think I'm better than you."

The Devil was obviously tempted to approach Johnny for his fiddling, but not because he was "young" or a "man".

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 that's ever been."

What a cocky, sniveling, little shit.

Johnny, you rosin' up your bow and play your fiddle hard.
'Cause hells broke loose in Georgia and The Devil deals it hard.
The Devil, seen here playing his fiddle. Note the mostly black background; clearly he's in Georgia.
And if you win you get this shiny fiddle made of gold.
But if you lose, The Devil gets your soul.

A reiteration of the initial bet, with much emphasis on how awesome The Devil is.[4]

The Devil opened up his case and he said, "I'll start this show."
And fire flew from his fingertips as he resined up his bow.
And he pulled the bow across his 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 ol' son.
But if you'll sit down in that chair, right there, and let me show you how its done."

The Devil went easy on Johnny.

Fire on the mountain, run boys, run.
The Devil's in the house of the risin' sun.
Chicken in the bread pan, pickin' out dough.
"Granny, does your dog bite?"
"No, child, no."

Nobody knows what this means. Technically, since the lyrics to the song Johnny was playing are evidently rambling stupid nonsense, The Devil still should have won, but then again the real "winner" of any organized sport is he who completes a certain task first (such as in pool) or he who attains the lowest or highest score at the end of the game (such as in golf or on the end, basketball). Since music is very subjective, the actual winner is indeterminable. It's like saying, "Who's better? Clapton or Hendrix?" We all know Hendrix is better, but the real winner (Hendrix) is indeterminable (and by indeterminable, I mean Hendrix).

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 told you once, you son of a bitch, I'm the best that's ever been."

The Devil didn't bow his head in defeat, but instead bowed his head in utter disbelief at how horribly mediocre Johnny was. And out of sheer arrogance, Johnny personally insults The Devil by calling him a "son of a bitch". How mean. All The Devil ever did was try to be nice to Johnny and try to get his soul.

And he played fire on the mount, run boys, run.
The Devil's in the house of the risin' sun.
Chicken in the bread pan pickin' out dough.
"Granny, does your dog bite?"
"No, child, no."

Johnny continues to "pwn" The Devil as he leaves. What an asshole.


Photographic evidence that the Devil has been to Georgia. Or at least the state line.

Some speculate that Johnny may actually be "Johnny B. Goode". Chuck Berry tells us that Johnny B. Goode was from Louisiana and "...he could play the guitar just like a ringing a bell." One might assume that there is no relation to Johnny the fiddler from Georgia and Johnny the guitarist from Louisiana, but the two states are put-near adjacent. Also, the fiddle resembles the guitar in many ways.

Since history isn't always accurate and Chuck Berry was a heavy drug abuser, it's quite possible that the two instruments were confused for each other, and that the two Johnnies are the the same people... or just the fact that Berry was reminiscing on the first time he took magic mushrooms.

The Devil vs. The State of Georgia

The Devil sued Charlie Daniels and his eponymous band for $20,000 in emotional and reputational damage caused by the song's blunt accusations, to-wit: that The Devil was "stealing" souls.[5] The State of Georgia represented the Charlie Daniels Band entirely, and after a much publicized court case in which The Devil represented himself, The Devil lost and was fined $20,000 in gold fiddles.

In 2007, The Devil released a semi-autobiographical novel titled If I Did It, in which he portrays the events hypothetically. Many believe this was The Devil's attempt to stave off bankruptcy. One excerpt of the book is below:

"Of course, I didn't do it, but if I had, I probably would have tried to steal a soul, yes, but in a bit of a bind, I would've been willing to make a deal, perhaps. So there he was, and let's just say that I was a convicted sex offender which I'm not, but let's just say that I'm into that stuff, which I'm not [anymore], so I see Johnny enticingly playing with his fiddle, and let's just say I like the way he handles his fiddle. I didn't, but let's just say that I did. If I did. Which I didn't."

The book was a commercial failure.


  1. So dramatic that they can only be told in song form.
  2. And because his mother was a crackwhore. Just putting it out there.
  3. They didn't have e-mail back then.
  4. Very.
  5. Mind you, all damned souls were damned voluntarily.

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