The Devil Went Down to Georgia (3:36)

Cover of 100 Grootste Jaren 70 Hits

From 100 Grootste Jaren 70 Hits

The song is a narrative about the Devil, who comes to Georgia to procure souls. He has not obtained any recently, and is willing to “make a deal” out of desperation. He happens upon a young fiddle player named Johnny, who is minding his own business and playing impressively. The Devil approaches Johnny, and informs him that he too, plays the fiddle. He then decides to challenge Johnny to a fiddle-playing contest, confident that he is more skillful than the young boy. The terms of the duel are that should Johnny win, he will be given a fiddle made of solid gold, but should the Devil triumph, he gains Johnny’s soul. Johnny accepts the terms, proudly telling the Devil that he will regret it as he is “the best there’s ever been”. The duel commences, with the Devil performing a sinister and powerful piece with the backing of demon musicians. Despite this, the Devil is squarely defeated when Johnny takes his turn to perform. The Devil acknowledges being bested and, true to his word, the Devil presents Johnny with a beautiful golden fiddle. Johnny boastfully informs the Devil that he is welcome anytime to come back for a rematch.

The narrative is a derivative of the traditional “pact with the Devil” motif. Charlie Daniels has stated in interviews, “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 Benét wrote many, many years ago [1925], that I had in high school.”

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