Thirty-Nine Questions for Charlie Daniels Upon Hearing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” for the First Time in 25 Years.
BY JOHN MOE
[Originally published August 16, 2005.]
1. The Devil won that fiddling contest, right?
2. Because isn’t that totally amazing fiddle feedback thing the Devil plays (which sounds like Hendrix gone bluegrass) a hundred times better than that high-school-band piece-of-crap tune Johnny plays?
3. I mean, come on, right?
4. And since the Devil is so clearly better, why does he lay the golden fiddle on the ground at Johnny’s feet?
5. What kind of one-sided bet was that anyway, your eternal soul for a fiddle?
6. Shouldn’t it have been something like Johnny’s soul or the eradication of Evil?
7. Or maybe a golden fiddle against some object Johnny placed great value upon?
8. If the Devil went down to Georgia ’cause he was looking for a soul to steal, why does he arrange what appears to be an honest competition?
9. Was there actually some hidden theft or scam going on here on the part of the Devil?
10. Then why not explain that, Mr. Daniels?
11. And who was judging that contest?
12. Was it an honor-system kind of thing?
13. With the Devil?
14. Honor system with the Devil. How did Johnny get sucked into that one?
15. Does Johnny suffer from some—I’m trying to be delicate here—cognitive disabilities?
16. Was there some sort of arbitration board in place in the event that the outcome was not obvious?
17. If so, who served on this board?
18. It wasn’t the demons, was it?
19. ‘Cause even though they’re the only characters in the song, they’re kind of biased since they’re in the Devil’s band and they’re demons, right?
20. So why—why—does the Devil take the dive and throw the contest?!
21. I mean, the Devil can’t be hurting for cash. How much is it going to cost him to buy a new golden fiddle?
22. I’m thinking maybe $18,000. Does that sound right to you?
23. If you’re Johnny, what do you even want with a golden fiddle?
24. Doesn’t the metallic surface of a golden fiddle create an unpalatably tinny sound as opposed to the nice resonant sound on a wooden instrument?
25. Does he think he’s going to display it in his home and tell people the story of how he beat the Devil?
26. Who’s going to believe that?
27. Or does he try to sell the fiddle?
28. If so, how does he go about getting something like that appraised?
29. Or does he just melt it all down for the gold?
30. That sounds awfully hard, don’t you think?
31. And is Johnny haunted by the question of why the Devil let him win like that?
32. Was there some catch in the contest that Johnny wasn’t aware of where the Devil really does get his soul anyway and Johnny didn’t notice it because he’s not all that smart?
33. And even if he didn’t get Johnny’s soul, what is Johnny going to say to God in heaven when he has to explain that he bet his soul, the essence of life, God’s one true gift, on a fiddle contest?
34. Johnny knows deep down that he’s not really the best that’s ever been and that’s the source of his insecure boasting, right?
35. Was it really necessary or wise to invite the Devil to come on back if he ever wants to try again?
36. ’Cause what does Johnny need, a second golden fiddle?
37. Or maybe a golden viola the next time?
38. Why would the Devil need an invitation?
39. Are you implying, Mr. Daniels, that Johnny actually wants to get hustled?
SUGGESTED READSList: Other Unfortunate Uses for Johnny Cash Songs
by Kenda Burrack (2/22/2004)
Dispatches From a Guy Trying Unsuccessfully to Sell a Song in Nashville: Dispatch 1: Mopping Up the Blood
by Charlie Hopper (9/14/2009)
Dispatches From a Guy Trying Unsuccessfully to Sell a Song in Nashville: Dispatch 2: Why You Hate Modern Nashville
by Charlie Hopper (9/30/2009)
RECENTLYExcerpts From the Gilmore Girls Revival Script, Which Seem to Indicate That Aliens Play a Large Role in the Show
by Tim Hayes (9/23/2016)
List: Lesser-Known Writing Fellowships
by Kathleen Founds (9/23/2016)
Inside Witnesses: One Crime’s Many Narratives: Shira and Her Boss Take Care of Business
by Marti Jonjak (9/23/2016)
POPULARIt’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers
by Colin Nissan (9/22/2016)
An Honest Intern Application Cover Letter
by Nick Hughes (9/19/2016)
I Went to a Trump Rally. What I Found There Was a Bunch of Other Journalists Already Writing This Article
by Dan Hopper (9/15/2016)