Friend of the Devil

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"Friend of the Devil"
Song by Grateful Dead from the album American Beauty
Released November 1970
Genre Folk rock, Country rock
Label Warner Bros. Records
Composer Jerry Garcia and John Dawson, Robert Hunter
Producer Grateful Dead, Steve Barncard
American Beauty track listing
"Box of Rain"
(1)
"Friend of the Devil"
(2)
"Sugar Magnolia"
(3)

"Friend of the Devil" is a song recorded by the Grateful Dead. The music was written by Jerry Garcia and John Dawson and the lyrics are by Robert Hunter. It is the second track of the Dead's 1970 album American Beauty.

"Friend of the Devil" is about an outlaw, on the run from the police. His crime is never explicitly stated. The Devil helps him escape, but winds up chasing him just as the law does; several lines of the song are ambiguous, and could refer to either law enforcement or servants of Satan, such as "I was trailed by twenty hounds", which could refer to either police dogs sniffing his trail, or mythical hellhounds.

The song is acoustic, like most of American Beauty. It is known for the riff lead guitarist Jerry Garcia plays in the bass register, which is a descending G major scale (G F# E D C B A G). The song is among the most covered songs written by the Grateful Dead; Hunter later stated, "that was the closest we've come to what may be a classic song."

The song was introduced in concert on February 28, 1970 at the Family Dog in San Francisco. Later in the band's history, the song slowed down significantly in live performances. Loggins and Messina, whose version of the song was slowed down, might have inspired the Dead to do the same. In more recent history, Phil Lesh with Phil's band Phil Lesh and Friends do a more up-tempo version similar to the original.

Hunter plays a slightly different version on his album (released only in LP format) Jack O'Roses. He adds a final verse:

"You can borrow from the Devil/ You can borrow from a friend/ But the Devil'll give you twenty/ When your friend got only ten"

During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, many American Christian groups railed against rock bands with perceived Satanic influences. This song was frequently cited as an example[citation needed], due to its apparent sympathy to an outlaw who makes a deal, literal or not, with the Devil.

Cover versions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Here I Am: The Lyle Lovett Collection by Lyle Lovett, http://rateyourmusic.com/release/comp/lyle_lovett/here_i_am__the_lyle_lovett_collection/, rateyourmusic.com, 2009
  2. ^ Mike Ayers (May 19, 2013). "Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers Turn Hangout Fest Into Karaoke Bar". MTV News. Retrieved August 22, 2013. 
  3. ^ Chris Payne (May 19, 2013). "Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers End Bonnaroo 2013 With Extended Jams". Billboard. Retrieved August 22, 2013. 

External links[edit]