RIP: “Devil Went Down To Georgia” Singer, Charlie Daniels Dies At 83

Written by Wes Walker on July 7, 2020

The Hall of Fame musician best known for singing about the Devil and Johnny in a fiddle duel over his soul is no longer among us.

A statement from his publicist said the Country Music Hall of Famer died Monday at a hospital in Hermitage, Tennessee, after doctors said he had a stroke. He had suffered what was described as a mild stroke in January 2010 and had a heart pacemaker implanted in 2013 but continued to perform.

Daniels, a singer, guitarist and fiddler, started out as a session musician, even playing on Bob Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” sessions. Beginning in the early 1970s, his five-piece band toured endlessly, sometimes doing 250 shows a year.

…Eventually, at the age of 71, he was invited to join the epitome of Nashville’s music establishment, the Grand Ole Opry. He was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

He said in 1998 that he kept touring so much because “I have never played those notes perfectly. I’ve never sung every song perfectly. I’m in competition to be better tonight than I was last night and to be better tomorrow than tonight.” — CBS

He is quoted as saying there’s not a city in America he hasn’t played in.

Forbes, in writing about his death, points out that he has picked up on many of the same frustrations in ‘Flyover’ America that Trump has built into his platform.

The lyrics go on to describe how, in Daniels explicit words, crimes such as drug dealing, theft, and murder should be punished. But the chorus shares an “everyman” attitude that attempts to transcend what many might see as hateful rhetoric.

“You know what’s wrong with the world today? People done gone and put their Bible’s away. They’re living by the law of the jungle not the law of the land. The Good Book says it so I know it’s the truth; An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth. You better watch where you go and remember where you been – that’s the way I see it I’m a simple man.”

Despite never officially endorsing President Trump, in “Simple Man” lyrics, Daniels captures the sentiments of a good portion of President Trump’s current supporters. Many in the President’s party feel, especially in 2020, that crime has gone unpunished, the swamp has gone undrained, and wrong has gone uncorrected. And while many political leaders, especially many Democrats, might view the people who share Daniel’s “Simple Man” sentiments as misguided or “deplorables,” that is an unfair characterization. In fact, the opposite is true — a vast majority of those like-minded individuals are earnest in their belief in the value of the words of the Bible they were raised on and the virtues they reflect. They don’t believe people are bad, but that bad actions demand consequences.

In fact, what Daniels tried to express in many of these later-career lyrics was the voice of Americans that feel frustrated and unheard, yet principled and patriotic. The very same feelings shared by many Americans who want to, in President Trump’s terms, make America great again.

And Forbes, which leans left, goes on to agree with the point Charlie was making.

This is what a good portion of the political establishment, especially Democrats, fail to understand. A vast majority of Americans that support President Trump don’t have hate in their heart, they have deeply rooted beliefs in what is wrong and right. These beliefs not shaped by what the media tells them, but what they learn from their parents, their pastors, and their bibles. They believe that law and order isn’t a violent threat or intended to be a crime against the innocent, but that it is a promise to protect the innocent from crime. And most of all, they believe that in a world of complexity, the greatest truth might actually be the simplest.

You see? Music can tell a story and deliver a message that can slip past the objections and filters that might ordinarily block it in conversation or essays.

The world could use a few more storytellers like Daniels.

Rest In Peace, Charlie.