Today is a special edition of the series Pop Songs: Explained. Now given that I’m currently visiting Georgia I figure I should do something different to commemorate the occasion. What better way to do that than by explaining the song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”, I mean the state is in the song title!
I’d hardly call this the best devil battle ever, my personal favorite is Tenacious D, but let’s focus on the song at hand. Now I have several problems with this song. First and foremost, who the hell bets their soul against a gold fiddle. I know it looks cool and all, but seriously, gold is not an optimal material for acoustics. You’ll find that wood is superior to gold in terms of general sound quality, unless of course you’re talking about speakers, in which case I would argue that gold is a far superior material for your sound system than wood, seeing as how wood is a terrible conductor. Now I don’t care how much you want that fiddle, don’t waste your soul trying to get it, souls are a highly valued commodity, don’t go for the first cool thing you see. Shop around, you could at least get some sweet headphones if you really tried.
In terms of meaning this song is pretty self-explanatory. Some idiot named Johnny agrees to a bet with the devil, in the worst business deal ever struck. After a few bars, what do you know, Johnny won, who would’ve guessed. I think that is a travesty. First off that Johnny kid is clearly over-powered. Charlie Daniels hardly did a good job of making it a fair fight, which is just boring. There’s no challenge, no intrigue, no sabotage, no mid-movie slump. Secondly, why doesn’t the devil win? He always loses, plus how is Johnny going to learn not to bet his soul if he is always winning? Now he’s just going to be some arrogant asshole who’s always going around showing off, thinking he’s untouchable, because he beat the devil, like that’s something to be proud of. Thanks Charlie Daniels!
Well the secret story for this one is tricky to see, but once you get it, it’s clear as day. Now you know that devil guy I was talking about? You were probably thinking of that horned guy who runs around stealing souls and wrecking havoc. No, the term devil is used more accurately to describe evil or bad deeds. In this instance the devil represents Jonny’s terrible gambling problem. You see Johnny is addicted to gambling, and every so often he must fight off the urge to gamble. At this point all Johnny has left is his crappy fiddle. Now if Johnny loses, and succumbs to his gambling addiction he will lose what little he has left. Instead he fights for what he has left: the fiddle. To Johnny, the fiddle is made of gold because it is more valuable than anything in the world, because it has kept him alive. In reality the fiddle represents Johnny’s will and determination. You see Johnny takes the devil’s bet because he has to, he is forced to, he must constantly fight his addiction to stay alive.
Damn, talk about over-analysis…