Posted on 05.17.2019

Forty and Forward: The Devil Went Down to Georgia

Forty years ago, the band and myself were engaged in intense writing and rehearsal mode, creating and preparing material for the first project we would be doing with our new producer John Boylan.

We were excited about working with John, it would be a new direction for us, working with a producer who had a much broader and current overlook at the music business and what kind of records it would take to get the major market radio play that could raise the profile of the band and push albums into serious sales.

We had already had major success with ‘Fire on The Mountain’ which had set the foundation and the paths we wanted to take, but our next album, ‘Nightrider,’ and subsequent projects had only moderate success, and had fallen far short of garnering the attention we needed to take another career step up the ladder.

I met with John when we were doing a concert in Los Angeles, we talked, and I’ll never forget what he said about thinking that he knew how to help us cut the kind of albums that could get the kind of mass air play across the country we were looking for.

John Boylan’s motto is, “I’m an obstetric producer, I deliver your brainchild”, which is exactly what I was looking for.

I had no desire to work with some heavy-handed, egotistical type know it all, who would try to change the style and sound of The CDB. I have always felt that we needed someone who could come in and be another member of the band, respecting our opinions, our music and the approach to how we played it.

And, of course, someone whose opinion we respected.

John fit the bill perfectly, immediately making friends with the band and crew and just being one of the guys.

He would also be bringing an engineer from Los Angeles, who had worked at the state-of-the-art studios out there and would know how to make whatever we recorded competitive for the day’s market but still maintaining the basic sound of the band.

His name was Paul Grupp and we had never seen anything like him as he meticulously started getting sounds and balances on the instruments in preparation for recording.

We set about our task with the energy and the knowledge that we had the right team in the control room to bring it all home, and the tracks were sounding great.

But after a few days in the studio it seemed that we all kinda looked at each other and thought “Something is missing.”

As the album progressed it became obvious that we needed a fiddle tune, which had always been a standard part of our other albums, but had been left out of the writing process for some reason or another.

We shut down the sessions, moved our equipment out of Woodland Sound Studios into S.I.R (Studio Instrument Rental) Rehearsal Studio and started bouncing ideas around.

I had one line in my head, a line I think was inspired by the Stephen Vincent Benét poem, "The Mountain Whippoorwill," which I had read my senior year in high school, a poem about a mountain boy and his fiddle entering a fiddling contest and, being a young fiddle player, it had made a pretty profound impression on me.

The line was “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

Even though the line that inspired me is not even in the poem – although it is set in Georgia - for some reason the thought and the poem’s content, dealing with a backwoods fiddle contest, brought to my mind a line I couldn’t forget and “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” began to take shape as the drummers found a rhythm, Charlie Hayward came up with a cooking bass part, Taz created that ominous line that sets up the fiddle solo and Tommy Crain played a boiling rhythm part on his guitar.

I got the lyrics written in short order and we moved back into Woodland Studios to do something we had not an inkling we would be talking about forty years later.

It was a record that was right down Paul Grupp’s alley as he worked with me to combine seven fiddle parts to make the wild sound on the devil’s solo.

And John Boylan was as good as his word, he truly did deliver our brainchild and he truly did produce an album that would get the kind of air play we needed and went on to push ‘Million Mile Reflections’ to multiplatinum status and the song became an international hit.

It’s hard to believe that’s been forty years ago, but what a great forty years it’s been.

Ain’t no telling what’s going to happen in the next forty.

What do you think?

Pray for our troops, our police and the peace of Jerusalem.

God Bless America

— Charlie Daniels

Check out the "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" webpage HERE


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Check out "Mexico Again" from Beau Weevils - 'Songs in the Key of E'


Just as good @ 40
Amen, Amen & Amen Charlie, ain't God good and ain't it still amazing what a few folks coming together can create. I will never forget the first time I heard it, I was out trying to finish planting soybeans before a toad strangler set in and knew then that it would be greater than Uneasy Rider. Congratulations on the anniversary and wishing you many more years enjoying making music....nuff said God Bless Plowboy
Posted by Plowboy
Sometimes we never know!
Dear Charlie Daniels Band! CONGRATULATIONS! Thank you for a song that would affect so many people, as a sort of rally song "gainst" that devil! As a songwriter myself, Sometimes we never know exactly how the Words we write will affect people, and in this case, WOW! I just listened to the song again. Kinda made me think of David on the battlefield with Goliath. Also made me think on another level... The devil went up to Washington! Thank God we the people gonna play our fiddles hard and mighty. We will, with Gods help, kick him out of there too! Another Shout out to Plowboy: Yes, God is Good!!! Godbless and Godspeed Bernadette
Posted by Bernadette
40 years ago thoughts
Yes a great album. Remember back then you had 2 drummers. Would be great to see the CDB doing the 2 drummer thing again. I am going to be 64 next month, sure would like to be that 2nd drummer. Ready anytime you are Charlie. Signed "That drummer in Arizona"
Posted by Dennis
Song for a lifetime!
"Well the big man came up on the stage, had his fiddle in his hand, He played a little Trudy with the rest of his band, They did a few more oldies that we all knew so well, Then Charlie whooped the Devil and sent him back to Hell,... It was a night I'll always remember, It was a night I'll talk about for years...." Need I say any more? Congratulations and thanks for the memory of Volunteer Jam V and many more!
Posted by Tyson
mega LIERS
NANCY PLOSI & HER TRAINED MONKEY CHUCKIE SCHUMER YOU BOTH ARE A LYING BAG OF SH--- --- retire......go away---- you are an embarrassment to our country god help us all....
Posted by JEAN
Bought a Stetson on DWDTG's 10 year anniversary. Said I'd only wear it at C.D.B. concert while listening to one of the best songs ever created and performed. On 8/22/19 I'll fulfill that promise, and be wearing it for the first time, while enjoying the great DWDTG along with my wife on our 30th anniversary. You do it right and you do well Charlie. Congrats to you and all involved on 40!
Posted by Paul
The devil.....
That song will still be played in another 40 years. It's a great, all time hit!
Posted by Dennis
Forty and forward
I have seen Charlie 3 times in my day Once in N.C. and twice in Danville VA. and what a blessing he was. I miss him so much. Charlie told it like it was .He didn't waver in his God loving Beliefs and that was a blessing as well. Heaven sure got an awesome angel. He might have been older but he is still gone way too soon. Thanks for keeping his memory alive. His music lives on and on.
Posted by Ruth
Charlie Daniels
I love reading your soapbox Mr. Charlie had invited me to go on tour a couple years before he passed but i was tied up with work and couldn't go I love his music
Posted by David Gerald