The devil's in the house of the rising sun?

I’m here at work, listening to the radio, and one of the greatest fiddle songs in the history of fiddlin’ comes on: The Devil Went Down To Georgia.

For the life of me, I cannot understand what is meant by “The devil’s in the house of the rising sun.” After some research, I came across this: The Straight Dope on House of the Rising Sun. But that doesn’t make sense, as it is in New Orleans and, ya know, New Orleans isn’t in Georgia.

My feeble mind cannot understand a simple country song…please help!

And lyrics can be found here:

The Devil Went Down To Georgia

I’m more confused about the chicken in the breadpan.

Why? He’s just minding his own business, pickin’ out dough.

Yeah that too. Heck, feel free to explain that whole section :slight_smile:

“Chicken in the breadpan” is a reference to an old bluegrass fiddle tune, as is “Granny does your dog bite?”

more here

The devil is in blues music.

I wondered if it was a reference to the song House of the Rising Sun. No idea though. (George Washington’s brother Charlie owned The Rising Sun Tavern in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but to the best of my knowledge the Devil never stayed there.)

[bullshitter hat on]

Georgia, being located on the eastern coast of the United States, is in the first time zone to see the sun each day. So, just as Japan is the Land of the Rising Sun, Georgia (along with every state from Maine to Florida) is the US’s own Land of the Rising Sun. What’s more, Georgia is famous for its stunning examples of antebellum architecture, which, as many old houses were, are often situated so that their windows lie on an East/West line. Fact is, Johnny’s hickory stump was right outside his beautiful old Georgia home, which had windows that met some of the first rays of sun that the nation saw each and every day.

[/bullshitter hat off]

Many questions persist. If the devil went “down” to Georgia, then he was previously hanging out somewhere further north, which causes one to query, “where?” MD? NY? Canada? Then we’re told that he “was in a bind”, and was “way behind” suggesting that he’s actively recruiting souls for someone higher up, and his productivity is closely monitored. Who would that person be? I’m naturally suspicious of Ted Kennedy, but that’s just me. :wink:

Richard Simmons. Trust me.

Actually, here’s a serious answer. If you think of a ‘house of the rising sun’ as like a ‘red house,’ then it makes a bit more sense. The devil’s in a brothel. Of course, this link leads to a discussion of the song made popular by The Animals.
Devil Went Down to Georgia is one of those songs where you have to take a general context and not analyze everything very closely, IMHO. I think it’s trying to evoke southern imagery and phrases. After all, Johnny’s a southern boy.

Maybe he’s looking for whores to work in his “House of the Rising Sun” and if Johnny can’t fiddle as well as him, he’ll have to turn tricks for ol’ Nick.

First let me say, Charlie Daniels may have been channeling Led Zepplin a la Stairway To Heaven as far as the lyrics go. They fit the need of rhyme in a song that is really about the music being played. (IMO, Stairway and Devil would still be great songs if they were instrumentals.) The lyrics were there for the sake of having lyrics.

That said, I’ll give the idea that a friend and I came up with after 2 hits of acid and a bottle of Cuervo oh so many years ago.

Think this way:


Follow me a moment.

“The Devil’s in the house of the rising sun.”

Johnny is challenging the Devil to a contest to see which is the best fiddle player. Clearly, with the arrogant swagger of The Dark Lord, he has to travel the world proving he’s the best fiddler out there. But Johnny is pretty damn good as well, and Dad (follow me here) has to prove he’s still top dog.

Johnny has a genetic advantage in that the Devil is his father. His body (being the “house”) has the Devil in it. (Being the genetic code of the Devil.) Johnny’s a young man so he’s still rising in stature and fame and power.

The Devil and Johnny are practicing the age old dance of the son breaking from his father and becomming his own man. The Devil: holding onto his established reign as top dog. Johnny: using youth and guile and lessons learned from the old man, proves his worthiness.

Betting soul vs. gold fiddle? Either the Devil wins and “owns” his son, or Johnny wins and is passed the torch. See how easy this all is?

Man, I miss taking acid. :frowning:

Fiddler Vassar Clements claims the tune was stolen from his Lonesome Fiddler Blues, which Vassar wrote in the 1940s.

Was I not clear in my previous answer or am I being whooshed here? :confused:*

Fire on the Mountain
Run Boys Run
Chicken in the Bread Pan
Granny Does your Dog Bite?
House of the Rising Sun#

These are all the names of old fiddle tunes, ones that Johnny is playing in his competition with the devil. The chorus is actually very straightforward. The story cycles of “Jack” or “Johnny” competing with and outsmarting the Devil has a long, long tradition in the South. These stories were old when the Devil was young.

I hadn’t heard that about Vassar Clements. Interesting.

*I do realize some of you are just having fun.

I don’t know if this is particularly a fiddle tune but it is old, I believe.

It is old. The tune goes back to middle/old english, iirc.