Primus, a rock band from San Francisco, recorded this version of Charlie Daniels’ classic, which was released as a Claymation music video on their 1998 Rhinoplasty EP and its companion Videoplasty video album, and also re-released on their 2003 EP Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People. This video was directed by Mike Johnson.
The song is basically the tale of the devil challenging Johnny by saying that ‘I bet a fiddle of gold against your soul ‘Cause I think I’m better than you’. Johnny in return says that ‘”My name’s Johnny and it might be a sin, But I’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret,’Cause I’m the best there’s ever been”’.
The song itself gives the listener absolutely no clue to where the contest between The Devil and Johnny, the fiddler from George, takes place. Primus makes it intensely rural, with the video starting with the Devil riding into Georgia on a bicycle. As you can see from the image I’ve included, he’s pretty much an archetypal devil accept for the weirdly oversized teeth, which I’ve no idea why they exist.
Johnny, as you can see, is a lad in his early teens, complete with straw hat and big ears. He’s fiddling away with chickens at his feet when the Devil shows up to challenge him, complete with a bevy of demons.
Ok, I’m going to stop now and direct you to the video here. I’ll be in the Green Man Pub have one of our our Autumn Ales, White Chalk Horse Ale most likely, while you watch it. I’ll see you back here after you see it…
So, isn’t it fun? My favored parts are the wonderfully depicted demons, the dancing chickens, including one who lays an egg, and the amazing way that Primus successfully blends the music into the animation in a way that makes the music feel far more intense than it does when played by the Charlie Daniels Band, a statement that likely strikes many in Georgia as outright blasphemy.