It may be a good thing that Charlie Daniels did not live to hear Nickelback’s newly released cover of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” if only for the language issues. Performing the 1970s smash live in later years, the famously conservative Daniels would sing the climactic line “You son of a bitch” as “You son of a gun” (as it was heard in the original single radio edit, too)… so he might not cotton to Chad Kroeger amending “Let me show you how it’s done” to “Let me show you how the f— it’s done.”
But, of course, the song would not be coming out at all, if not in commemorating the dead of Daniels, who died July 6 at age 83. Nickelback’s version is not a newly recorded one but had actually been in the can for years. As the band explained on its Facebook page, “A few years ago we recorded a take of ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia during a studio session with our good friend Dave Martone. It was a fun song to tackle and brought back so many good memories for us all. When Charlie Daniels passed last month, the world lost a music icon. We hope our version will bring half as much joy as his did for us and so many others.”
If you’re wondering if Nickelback brought in, say, Lindsay Stirling or anyone else to provide some mad fiddle skills, well, apparently that is an F-word that the group did wish to avoid. It’s all dueling electric guitars in this very metallic update. Kroeger once said that “I’ll sit down and have a go with any shredder,” and that’s just what he does, with Martone joining in. The resulting track screams “Guitar Center in Woodland Hills” more than “Georgia,” per se.
“A lot of people think that we’re just a band that plays the gushy love song things but all of us have a metal-head streak,” Mike Kroeger told Entertainment Tonight Canada. “So what we decided is, we’re gonna make it heavy and actually make it sound a little more evil. Give it a little bit more of a darker kind of tone.”
So is Nickelback’s version of “Devil” maybe even the personification of pure evil? That might be something the band’s fans and its famous legions of detractors could agree on, actually. Check out the animated video that accompanies the new release and decide for yourself whether it is deliberately or accidentally satanic.