At church last week our Sunday school teacher passed around an article from a Christian publication. The article warned against some of the music parents should forbid their kids from listening to. Some of the titles and artists were obvious, emphasizing mainly those from the genres of rap and metal. I was a little surprised to see some older artists on the list, even several deceased ones.
John Lennon was one of the more recognizable artists mentioned in the article, which listed “Imagine” which, according to the article, rejects the concept of heaven, and “Whatever Gets You Through the Night,” which allegedly encourages drug use.
In spite of the varied styles on the list, the writer of the article emphasized the one point he wanted to make. All the songs had one thing in common. They were all workings of the devil.
With the horns of “Whatever Gets You through the Night” swirling in my head for the rest of the Sunday school hour, I began to compose my own list of devil songs.
10. “Devil with the Blue Dress” by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels: The repetition of “Blue Dress” in the chorus makes the song quite catchy. The music has a lot of energy, which is why the song has endured.
9. “This Devil’s Work Day” by Modest Mouse: The evil guy here eats a whole wedding cake and freezes a sack of puppies. It’s not a nice song, obviously, nor is any other song on the band’s innovative
Good News for People Who Love Bad News.
8. “The Devil’s Been Busy” by The Traveling Wilburys: This track from
Traveling Wilburys Volume 3 highlights some of Bob Dylan’s best work in nearly a decade. He still seems to loosen up when he has a lot of talent around him, much as he did when the Band played with him for
The Basement Tapes.
7. “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger sings about some of the evils in the world from the first person point of view of Satan or Lucifer. The most recognizable part of the song is the very friendly greeting, “Pleased to meet you, Hope you guess my name.” The words are spoken in the same friendly way a politician or salesman speaks.
6. “Devil Woman” by Cliff Richard: The song is just a warning to keep away from the guy’s ex. “She’s just a devil woman with evil on her mind.” The song had the misfortune to come out nearly the same time as ELO’s more elaborate “Evil Woman,” which has the same warning with a lot more orchestration.
5. “Devil’s Haircut” by Beck: The opener for
Odelay launches Beck’s best album. I am not certain what the lyrics mean, as is the case with most of his songs. Nevertheless, after hearing the electric guitar riffs in the song you don’t even care what he means by “I got a devil’s haircut in my mind.”
4. “You Handsome Devil” by The Smiths: Morrissey here provides all antisocial bookworms with one of the classic lines defending their bibliophilia: “There’s more to life than books you know, But not much more.”
3. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band: It’s a trite tale of the devil making a deal for someone’s soul. This version, told with so much down home zeal, is thoroughly enjoyable. The devil’s electric jam session might be even better than Johnny’s bluegrass ensemble.
2. “Devil’s Food” by Alice Cooper: This song succeeds the title track on
Welcome to My Nightmare, Cooper’s first album after the break up of his band. Most of the song features Vincent Price’s scientific oration on the black widow. Price was used for a similar purpose years later in Michael Jackson’s Thriller, but he still seems more suitable on an Alice Cooper record.
1. “Devil, Take the Farmer” by Dry Branch Fire Squad: Though not well-known nationally, this bluegrass band has thousands of loyal fans in its home state Ohio and throughout the Midwest. This song about the plight of disappearing farms is still my favorite, mainly because of clever lines. I am not certain whether to laugh or become enraged when I hear verse two’s closing line, “With half the stuff they hand me, I could fertilize a field.”