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Satan Is Real

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Satan Is Real
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 16, 1959
RecordedAugust 8–10, 1958
GenreGospel bluegrass[1]
ProducerKen Nelson, John Johnson (Reissue)
The Louvin Brothers chronology
Country Love Ballads
Satan Is Real
My Baby's Gone

Satan Is Real is a gospel bluegrass album by American country music duo The Louvin Brothers, released in 1959.[2][3]


Producer Ken Nelson set up recording sessions in August 1958 to record enough tracks for two albums. The first was to become Country Love Ballads, the second the gospel music for Satan is Real. Over 20 songs were recorded in a seven-day span.[3]

The 3-minute title-track, with only two sung choruses, is largely taken up by a personal narrative monologue describing the dangers of Satan.


Designed by Ira Louvin, the cover features the brothers standing in a rock quarry, dressed in matching spotless white suits and black ties, in front of a 12-foot-tall (3.7 m) plywood rendition of the Devil, as several hidden tires soaked in kerosene burn behind them as fire and brimstone.[3][4]


Professional ratings
Review scores
No Depression(A)[5]

While reviewers have generally commented on the distinctive album cover, they have also highly praised the song writing and performances. Mark Deming stated in his AllMusic review: "You don't need to share the Louvin Brothers' spiritual beliefs to be moved by the grace, beauty and lack of pretension of this music; Satan Is Real is music crafted by true believers sharing their faith, and its power goes beyond Christian doctrine into something at once deeply personal and truly universal, and the result is the Louvin Brothers' masterpiece."[2]

Don Yates of No Depression called the album a "bold statement of its title signified the uncompromising nature of the Louvins’ beliefs. Whereas much country gospel of the ’50s was filled with feel-good platitudes that reflected the general optimism of the time, the Louvins’ gospel songs mirrored their own fire-and-brimstone Christianity... the album is an essential document of a side of the Louvins’ music that was at least as important to them as their more famous secular recordings."[5]

Critic Scott Walden compared the Louvins' music to the Velvet Underground; "Their comprehension of the tortured throes of a drunkard's Satan-infested soul are no less profound than Lou Reed's own understanding of a heroin junkie wrestling with a world devoid of meaning beyond the piercing tip of the needle... The depth is there in Satan is Real. This album transcends the immediate kitsch appeal of its cover. There is a reason why songs from this album have been performed by the more commonly accepted genius of artists such as Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash, and Emmylou Harris."[1]

Singer-songwriter Brennen Leigh called Satan is Real "an absolutely beautiful, sincere, wonderful gospel album." She added, "It's got some stuff in it that might be off-putting to some modern audiences, but I would urge the listener of this record, if you're new to it -- if you can appreciate the spirituality in it, do. If you can't, listen to it for sonic value. Because the sonic value and the musical value of this record, there isn't anything better."[6]

Cultural legacy[edit]

"The Christian Life" was covered by The Byrds on their 1968 country rock album Sweetheart of the Rodeo.[3]

"Satan's Jeweled Crown" was covered by Emmylou Harris on her 1975 album Elite Hotel.

The opening bars of the album's title track "Satan is Real" can be heard at the beginning of Hank Williams III's "Medley: Straight to Hell / Satan is Real", on his Straight to Hell album of 2006. It is also excerpted in Will Ferrell's 2009 one-man Broadway show You're Welcome America. A Final Night With George W Bush.

The 2010 Christmas album, Santa Is Real, by social media site Red State Update, parodies both this album's title and cover.[7]

In 2014, Martin Guitars released a commemorative guitar featuring the Satan Is Real album cover.[8]

In 2020, Oakland, California band Idiot Grins released 'Thoughts and Prayers', a song for song cover of the Louvin Brothers' 'Satan is Real'.  'Thoughts and Prayers' received widespread critical acclaim while bringing attention to the 1959 classic original album.


Track listing[edit]

  1. "Satan Is Real" (Charlie Louvin, Ira Louvin) – 3:00
  2. "There's a Higher Power" (Louvin, Louvin) – 2:21
  3. "The Christian Life" (Louvin, Louvin) – 2:16
  4. "The River of Jordan" (Hazel Houser) – 2:17
  5. "The Kneeling Drunkard's Plea" (Maybelle Carter, Anita Carter, Helen Carter, June Carter Cash) – 2:51
  6. "Are You Afraid to Die" (Louvin, Louvin, Eddie Hill) – 2:33
  7. "He Can Be Found" (Ella Barrett, Faye Cunningham) – 2:14
  8. "Dying from Home, And Lost" (Traditional) – 2:46
  9. "The Drunkard's Doom" (Louvin, Louvin) – 3:14
  10. "Satan's Jeweled Crown" (Edgar Eden) – 2:56
  11. "The Angels Rejoiced Last Night" (Louvin, Louvin) – 2:18
  12. "I'm Ready to Go Home" (Houser) – 3:08


Production notes:

  • Ken Nelson – producer
  • John Johnson – reissue producer
  • Joe Allison – liner notes
  • Charles K. Wolfe – reissue liner notes


  1. ^ a b c Deming, Mark. "Satan is Real > Review". PopMatters. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Deming, Mark. "Satan is Real > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d Wolfe, Charles K. (1996). In Close Harmony: The Story of the Louvin Brothers. Univ. Press of Mississippi. pp. 91. ISBN 0-87805-892-3. satan is real louvin brothers.
  4. ^ "Satan Is Real". Killing the Buddha. June 6, 2006. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Yates, Don (September–October 1996). "Review: Louvin Brothers: Tragic Songs of Life/A Tribute to the Delmore Brothers/Satan is Real". No Depression (5). Archived from the original on 2009-07-28.
  6. ^ The Louvin Brothers - Satan is Real (1959), 2023-09-23, retrieved 2023-09-23
  7. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Red State Update's Christmas Album Santa Is Real. YouTube.
  8. ^ "Martin D-28 Louvin Brothers". Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  9. ^ Reissue of Tragic Songs of Life/Satan Is Real Retrieved November 2009.
  10. ^ "Fire, Brimstone, the Christian Life—and Great Harmonies" (November 4, 2011) The Wall Street Journal, p. D-4
  11. ^ "Satan Is Real". Light in the Attic Records. Retrieved April 12, 2015.

External links[edit]