The Devil Went Down To Leipzig

In response and homage to Ryan Laney’s fugue of the same name, in which he used the famous fiddle riff from the Charlie Daniels Band’s famous song as the subject.

The Devil went down to Leipzig, he was looking for another soul
Had a date with a doc down in Auerbach’s… but he had time to take a stroll
When he ducked into St. Thomas’ church and slid down past the pews
And he came upon our boy Johann, lacin’ up his organ shoes.

“You may be surprised to hear this, boy, but I’m an organist as well.
Don’t play many hymns, but we get our grins on the pipes down there in Hell.
Now I’ve heard you play a mean Marchand, but I wager I can do you in
And I’ll stake your soul for these shoes of gold, ‘cause I think I’m gonna win.”

The boy said, “My name’s Johnny, and such deals give me pause,
But strap on your shoes, and prepare to lose, cause I’m the best there ever was.

Johnny, open up the swell box and play like never before,
‘Cause Hell’s broke lose in Leipzig and the Devil’s keepin’ score.
And if you win you get these shoes with plates of gold
But it you lose, the coffee’s goin’ cold

The Devil sat down to the manuals and said, “This here is how it’s done.”
And he pulled out the stops and made the pedals drop and contest had begun.
That band of foul demons rose up ‘round from the abyss,
And fire belched from the flues as those golden shoes lit up the pedalboard like this.

[The Devil’s organ solo]

When the Devil cadenced, Johann said, “‘Twas an admirable display,
But you’ve had your ride. Now move aside and let me show you how to play.”

“Sacred Head now Wounded.” Play, Bach, Play!
The Devil’s in the chapel on Whitsunday.
Children in the narthex singin’ “Go, Pops, go!”
Beer and sausage later and a bauernbrot roll.

The Devil cast his head down for he knew that he’d been bested.
And he paid his dues for the golden shoes down by the bench now rested.
Johnny said, “Now come on back, you hear, if you ever have just cause,
But prepare to be stunned, you son of a gun, ‘cause I’m the best there ever was.”
And he played:

“Sacred Head now Wounded.” Play, Bach, Play!
The Devil’s in the chapel on Whitsunday.
Children in the narthex singin’ “Go, Pops, go!”
Beer and sausage later and a bauernbrot roll.

3 comments

  1. Alexandra says:

    I just came upon this and as a lover of the Charlie Daniels Band’s original I wanted to let you know that I had terrific fun reading this version.

    Do you by any chance know where I can find Ryan Laney’s fugue online?

    Thanks!
    Alexandra

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