The legendary Charlie Daniels Band, best known for the 1979 hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," will play Thursday in Rock Hill as part of the Old Town Amphitheater series.
With a career spanning more than 50 years, Daniels has no plans to stop any time soon and just realized his new single, "Let 'Em Win Or Bring 'Em Home."
Daniels talked with The Herald about his career, what his audience can expect and if the devil is indeed still in Georgia.
Tell us about your new single, "Let 'Em Win or Bring 'Em Home." What's that about?
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It's about the way I feel about the way things are going right now with our military. It seems that we have kind of reached an impasse especially in Afghanistan. I don't know what good we're doing there, and we keep refusing to acknowledge the real enemy, who are over in Pakistan. I'm not saying the whole country of Pakistan is our enemy, but they are certainly enemies over there ... We're going around our elbow to get our thumbs and as long as we do that, we're not going to do away with the bad guys. I think our military knows exactly what to do and how to go about doing it. I think they can get it done if left to their own devices and not have to do what the politicians are making them do. Turn them lose, let them win the war or bring them back home.
What kind of response have you had to the song so far?
Very positive response. I wrote that song for a special occasion we do in Nashville every year called the Tie the Yellow Ribbon. It's a benefit for special circumstances folks and their military families...That night we have veterans, National Guard Wounded Warriors, families of people who served. I wanted to do something special for those folks so I wrote this song and they liked it. We did it at the Grand Ole Opry a couple times and they liked it, so we decided to record it.
You've had a career dating to 1958 and you've been inducted to the Grand Ole Opry. During your career, what's one moment that truly stands out to you?
The one you just mentioned is hard to beat -- being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. It's been a lifelong thing that I've wanted to do. I've played the Opry many times, but we've never been a part of it as far as the official part is concerned, and when they told me we would be it just really mad me very happy. I told the crowd on stage that night, 'God will give you the desire of your heart, and one has been granted tonight.'
You can't talk about the Charlie Daniels Band without talking about "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." Why do you think that song became such an instant hit and is still so popular now?
If I could answer that question, I'd be a very brilliant man. That is hard to say for sure. I think it's probably a combination of things. I think it's probably the nature of the song; everybody likes to see the devil get beat. You can't beat the devil without the Lord. That just goes on to positive side of winning. I think it's the novelty. When you put together a hit record, it's a combination of things. I don't think it's necessary because of any one particular thing, the right song, the right arrangement, the right time...
One of our Facebook readers Travis wants to know: is the devil still down in Georgia?
Unfortunately the devil is in a lot of places. He goes around. That's a very serious subject with me. When I talk about that, it is not a reckless subject to me at all. I'm a Christian and I very much acknowledge that there is a devil. And like I said, you couldn't beat the devil without the Lord. ...
The biggest part of the song is the epic fiddle battle. Another reader, Renee, wanted to know when you started playing the fiddle and how you knew you wanted to make a career out of it.
I studied playing when I was probably about 16 years old. I definitely wanted to do it as soon as I got to where I could play with as much proficiency as possible.
What can people expect to see at a Charlie Daniels Band concert?
We always do the songs that they expect us to do. ... We've got some things that they may not have heard before.
Most people would dream to have a career like yours that spans over so many decades. Do you have any retirement plans?
I have made no retirement plans at all. As long as the Good Lord is willing me to be here and people like to hear me I'll be doing this.
Listen to the entire interview below.
Want to go?
Who: Charlie Daniels Band
When: Aug. 11. Gates open at 6 p.m. Opening act is 7 p.m. Charlie Daniels Band takes the stage at 8 p.m.
Where: Old Town Amphitheater at city hall; rain location will be Baxter Hood Center, 452 South Anderson Road.
How: For ticket information, visit bit.ly/pey4jX. Tickets are $35 in advance general admission; $45 for premium seating