Judge John Hodgman on That Fiddle Duel With the Devil

James writes: In“The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” the Devil and Johnny have a fiddle duel, and Johnny wins. But my wife thinks the Devil should have won! Based on the music, and ignoring the fact that the Devil conceded, who really won?

I am no violin expert, so I turn to the highest authority — the singer and fiddle deity Sara Watkins, who writes: “I agree that the Devil’s part is very cool. But the Devil doesn’t actually play that much. When he does, there are a lot of squeaks and squawks, like he missed a bunch of notes. Johnny doesn’t go for as much, but he hits what he’s going for much better. Maybe the Devil could practice a little bit. But I think it was a fairly decided competition and there was a peaceful transfer of the golden fiddle.” I hope your marriage may now begin to heal and your wife doesn’t go deeper into “the Devil won” online conspiracy theories.

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