The Devil Went Down To Georgia – Charlie Daniels Band | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#3) & Country (#1); 1979

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

The surprise pop star of 1979 was a 43-year-old bluegrass fiddler from North Carolina named Charlie Daniels. By then, the multi-talented Daniels had played in 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll bands, co-written It Hurts Me for Elvis, recorded with Bob Dylan, and produced the Youngbloods.

He’d even scored as an artist with the country-rock, long-haired Southern boy anthem, Uneasy Rider, in 1973. Five years later, Charlie needed a fiddle tune for his latest album, and turned to The Mountain Whippoorwill (Or, How Hill-Billy Jim Won the Great Fiddlers’ Prize): a 1925 poem by Stephen Vincent Benet.

Benet, in turn, had based Whippoorwill on a real-life contest at the Atlanta Fiddlers’ Convention the year a young Lowe Stokes defeated Fiddlin’ John Carson for the championship.

Benet punctuated his poem with the line, “Hell’s broke loose, Hell’s broke loose in Georgia!”: an apt description of rock and country fans’ response to Charlie’s platinum-selling update of Benet’s old-timey tale.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • John Boylan

Lyrics Written by:

  • Charlie Daniels
  • Tom Crain
  • “Taz” DiGregorio
  • Fred Edwards
  • Charles Hayward
  • James W Marshall