Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Best Triumph Over The Devil... in Music.

Since the dawn of time, or at least the dawn of man, mankind has squared off against his most formidable opponent. No, not fried foods. As terrifying an opponent as fried foods might be, they, too, shudder in their fried boots at the sight of man's worst opponent: The Devil. Despite the Devil's obvious power, though, man keeps on winning, because man knows what tricks to use to beat Old Scratch at his own game. Learn how by following the next few entries, beginning with:

The Best Triumph Over The Devil... in Music.

I like to lead an introspective life; my life is thoroughly examined by me, and by anyone who reads this, so Emerson, I gather, would think that my life is very much worth living.

Part of that introspection is to constantly challenge myself by imagining what scenarios might play out and how I would deal with them; this is probably a habit I picked up from reading The 18th Emergency when I was a kid. Never underestimate the impact of literature on a young mind. I know how to prepare for emergencies because of that book, but that's not all; I also learned not to tuck my thumb into my fist when I punch because doing that might break my thumb.

(I learned, from an entirely different book, that Whangdoodles can be cloned.)

So I ask myself, from time to time, what I would do in given situations, and then decide what I would do. The question might go like this: What if I were challenged by the devil to a fiddle-playing contest in which my soul was bet against a shiny fiddle made of gold? What would I do?

The answer is, first, tell the devil no way. What's a fiddle made of gold worth these days, anyway? Frankly, I don't know, because the only site I can find measures the price of gold in "grams per rupee," and I am 99% sure that both "grams" and "rupees" are made-up words that have no real meaning. The only way I have of knowing that gold is worth anything is because my TV shows are constantly interrupted by commercials advising people to put all their gold jewelry in a box and mail it somewhere, and the company they mail it to will then send them a check. That is by far the best business model I have ever heard of. So I pack up all Sweetie's jewelry and mail it off, and then get a check for $5.00, and what am I supposed to do? Track down the company? I'd bet they'd simply say Well, you didn't send us that much gold, and then snicker.

My point is, gold really isn't worth much, if people are just going to go mail it around the world and/or measure it in "rupees" and "grams." So in the first instance, I would tell the Devil that if he wants me to bet my soul, he'd better put up something valuable like giving me the ability to download songs for free for the rest of my life, or never having to hear about Angelina Jolie again, or something.

But, in the event that the Devil is persistent -- he just might be-- I may then have to have a Fiddle-Off, and what would I do then? If I've been paying attention to music, then I might think I know exactly what to do: I would assume that I could just rosin up my bow and play my fiddle hard, a plan I'd develop after listening to The Devil Went Down To Georgia.

The Devil Went Down To Georgia is something of an anomaly in popular music. A review of how the Devil appears in pop music reveals what John Lithgow and our parents and other grown-ups, back when there were grown-ups, have been trying to tell us all along, namely, pop music is a tool of the devil. Sympathy for the Devil, Friend of the Devil, Devil with a Blue Dress... these are all songs that not only fail to demonstrate how to beat Satan, but in fact encourage just the opposite, telling people to like the devil and helping to bring about the downfall of man. And that's not even taking into account a song called "Devil's Waltz" by some band called the "Disco Biscuits."

So listening to pop music will, in general, not be helpful in battling the devil when he shows up and challenges me to a fiddling contest, first because most pop music doesn't tell me how to fight the Devil, it just encourages me to befriend him and go get a smoothie with him (smoothies being well-known tools of the devil). It would seem, then, that the winner in this category has to be The Devil Went Down To Georgia, as that song is pretty much the only song anyone can remember that tells how to defeat the devil.

Honestly, I don't understand how musicians can be dropping the ball so badly. Movies, TV shows, books ... they all show mankind how to beat the devil. Musicians? Pleh. It's probably because they all sold their souls for a little bit of fame, and a hidden clause in the contract (there's always a hidden clause in contracts with the Devil) requires them to then put out songs that help the Devil.

But The Devil Went Down To Georgia is not The Best Triumph Over The Devil... in Music because on introspection, it's not all that helpful in helping me learn how to defeat the devil. I have to learn how to play the fiddle? What am I supposed to do, tell the Devil to come back in 6-8 years and then start taking lessons? Even then, it's going to be very difficult for me to outplay the devil, with his band of demons joining in and sounding something like this and all.

There's got to be a better way, and luckily, there is. Two better ways, in fact, both of them guaranteed to make the Devil run.

First runner-up is the method suggested by Paul McCartney in perhaps his best-known work ever, Run Devil Run.

Paul McCartney, as one of the few musicans not to be indebted to Satan, has a simple solution: rock out, and also be crazy. He spells it all out there for you: if you want to beat the Devil, live in a swamp and scream, night and day, about how the Devil better run because the Angels are... doing something. Making winners out of sinners, he says, apparently by having them pick cotton. Also, it's probably better, if you follow Paul's advice, not to use electricity, because the Holy Roller uses kerosene.

Assuming, though, that you, like I, do not necessarily want to live in a shack and pick cotton but still want to be a winner instead of a sinner, there's an even better way, this time set out in song by Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins in their song called, originally, Run, Devil Run.

I'd like to tell you exactly what they prescribe, but when I go to look up the lyrics, it seems that the people who compile them have gotten only as far as the first chorus. So I've listened to this song over and over to try to figure out what they've come up with, and here's what I've got:

(A) Praise Him and Thank Him, which will get you forgiveness for all the gambling you've done.
(B) Make a really big sword and pretend that everyone wants peace.
(C) Ask for mercy, and I think also have a big gun.

Which seems somewhat vague, but, then again, it doesn't require me to learn the fiddle or pick cotton.

So that's my plan: If ever challenged by the devil to a fiddlin' contest, while you suckers hope that the chicken keeps pickin' out dough, I will get forgiveness for my gambling and then fight the Devil with swords and a big gun, thanks to the lessons I learned from Run Devil Run by Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins, The Best Triumph Over The Devil... In Music.

I love theme weeks (and theme months). So while you await Friday's review of another great triumph over the Devil, take a look at

The Seven Best Showdowns Between Good and Evil, and

The Week I Examined The Best Rock Bands... and

Robot Week! and

Lame/Cool Month!

Click here to see all the other topics I’ve ever discussed!


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