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. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.
- John Boylan
Lyrics Written by:
- Charlie Daniels
- Tom Crain
- “Taz” DiGregorio
- Fred Edwards
- Charles Hayward
- James W Marshall