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  • Dear Musician – Fire On The Mountain

    Some are simply “born with it”!

    By Dendy Jarrett | (edited)



    In Charlie Daniels’ 1979 Grammy-winning song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” the Devil went in search of a soul to steal and came upon a fiddler named Johnny. It turns out that Johnny was a prodigy on fiddle. 


    Seems there are those to whom playing an instrument comes naturally (almost easily), but there are others who really have to work at it. I know you probably know someone like this. I do. 


    I could play a drum set the first time I ever sat down behind the kit. I intuitively knew how to play and was pretty decent at holding a beat in time. I never was a great player … rather just a good, steady 2 and 4 drummer, who eventually learned that less is more. Perhaps that natural talent to play kept me from digging in and becoming a great player – who knows.


    But I have known people who were simply able to pick up an instrument and instantly astound a listener. It was like their soul was an “old soul” that had played the instrument in a past life! And, for many of them, they knew right out of the box the subtleties of tasteful playing. I’ve even met (dare I call them) children who played like old masters…sometimes to the point that they seem possessed! 


    I contend that when this natural tendency is harnessed, the results can be fantastic. However, if the prodigy musician only stays “locked up in a room” with their instrument, it could create an unpleasant result. I once knew a player who performed as a clinician for a major instrument company. He was masterful! He was literally jaw dropping good! However, one night after a clinic, we went to a local venue and he was asked to play with the band. It was an unsettling experience, as, with a band, he couldn’t play his way out of a grocery sack. He had mastered the technical part of his instrument but had no real natural musicianship or experience.


    What were your musical roots? Did you have to work hard to master your instrument, or did it come naturally? Did you find you could play great with a band but weren’t great on your own, or the other way around? Or, were you a great player solo and with a group? 


    I‘ve posted the lyrics to The Devil Went Down to Georgia below as the story of the young musician as the victor is one to remember. I mean, when you’re good enough to throw down Fire On The Mountain with the devil and emerge the winner, it reflects that some are simply “born with it”!  -HC-


    The devil went down to Georgia
    He was lookin' for a soul to steal
    He was in a bind

    'Cause he was way behind
    And he was willin' to make a deal


    When he came upon this young man
    Sawin' on a fiddle and playin' it hot
    And the devil jumped
    Up on a hickory stump
    And said, "boy, let me tell you what


    I guess you didn't know it 
    But I'm a fiddle player too 
    And if you'd care to take a dare, I'll make a bet with you 


    Now you play a pretty good fiddle, boy
    But give the devil his due
    I'll bet a fiddle of gold
    Against your soul
    'Cause I think I'm better than you"


    The boy said, "my name's Johnny
    And it might be a sin
    But I'll take your bet
    And you're gonna regret
    'Cause I'm the best there's ever been"


    Johnny, rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard 
    'Cause hell's broke loose in Georgia, and the devil deals the cards 
    And if you win, you get this shiny fiddle made of gold 
    But if you lose, the devil gets your soul


    The devil opened up his case
    And he said, "I'll start this show"
    And fire flew from his fingertips
    As he rosined up his bow


    Then he pulled the bow across the strings
    And it made an evil hiss
    And a band of demons joined in
    And it sounded something like this


    When the devil finished
    Johnny said, "well, you're pretty good, old son
    But sit down in that chair right there
    And let me show you how it's done"


    He played Fire on the Mountain run boys, run
    The devil's in the House of the Rising Sun
    Chicken in a bread pan pickin' out dough
    Granny, does your dog bite? No child, no


    The devil bowed his head
    Because he knew that he'd been beat
    And he laid that golden fiddle
    On the ground at Johnny's feet


    Johnny said, "Devil, just come on back
    If you ever want to try again
    I done told you once you son of a bitch
    I'm the best that's ever been"


    He played Fire on the Mountain run boys, run
    The devil's in the House of the Rising Sun
    Chicken in a bread pan pickin' out dough
    Granny, does your dog bite? No child, no

    Source: LyricFind

    Songwriters: Charles Fred Hayward / Charlie Daniels / Fred Edwards / James W. Marshall / John Crain / William J. Digregorio

    The Devil Went to Georgia lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group


    Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Executive Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion and music industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.


    Edited by Dendy Jarrett

    Sub Title: Some are simply “born with it”!
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