This article is about the song. For the book, see Friend of the Devil (novel).
"Friend of the Devil" is a song recorded by the Grateful Dead. The music was written by Jerry Garcia and John Dawson and the lyrics are by Robert Hunter. It is the second track of the Dead's 1970 albumAmerican Beauty.
"Friend of the Devil" is about an outlaw, on the run from the police. His crime is never explicitly stated. The Devil helps him escape, but winds up chasing him just as the law does; several lines of the song are ambiguous, and could refer to either law enforcement or servants of Satan, such as "I was trailed by twenty hounds", which could refer to either police dogs sniffing his trail, or mythical hellhounds.
The song is acoustic, like most of American Beauty. It is known for the guitar riff Garcia plays in the bassregister, which is a descending G major scale (G F# E D C B A G). The song is among the most covered songs written by the Grateful Dead; Hunter later stated, "that was the closest we've come to what may be a classic song."
The song was introduced in concert on March 20th, 1970 at the Capital Theatre in Port Chester, NY. Later in the band's history, the song slowed down significantly in live performances. Loggins and Messina, whose version of the song was slowed down, might have inspired the Dead to do the same. In more recent history, Phil Lesh and Friends do a more up-tempo version similar to the original.
Hunter plays a slightly different version on his album (released only in LP format) Jack O'Roses. He adds a final verse:
"You can borrow from the Devil/ You can borrow from a friend/ But the Devil'll give you twenty/ When your friend got only ten"
- New Riders of the Purple Sage, which featured John Dawson, who along with Jerry Garcia wrote the music, recorded this on their twelfth studio album Keep On Keepin' On in 1989.
- Chris Smither originally released it on his 1972 album Don't Drag it On and covered the song on his live studio album Another Way to Find You, recorded in 1989 and released in 1991.
- During their 1994 Bridge School Benefit set Ministry played the song. A live recording from the show can be found on the 1997 compilation The Bridge School Concerts, Vol. 1.
- Tony Rice, Larry Rice, Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen covered the song on their 1999 album, Rice, Rice, Hillman & Pedersen.
- Loggins and Messina, whose version of the song was slowed down.
- Bob Dylan and Tom Petty also both have covered the song in concert, including Petty's 1997 rendition of the track available on his album The Live Anthology and his live performance at 2013's Hangout Festival.
- In 2002, Norway's top country-rock band, Hellbillies covered the song on their live album Cool Tur (Cool Tour). The song was performed with Norwegian lyrics by Arne Moslåtten and is known as "Hinnmann og eg".
- In 2003, Counting Crows included a slower-tempo cover of the song on their compilation album Films About Ghosts. While reproducing the acoustic riff, the Counting Crows version also adds electric keyboard and guitar instrumentation at about midway through the song.
- Elvis Costello and Keller Williams have also covered this song in concert.
- In 2008, the song was used in the introduction to an episode of Adult Swim's Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil, sung by the Devil (Lucy's father) and Terry, the Devil's sentient teratoma.
- A version by Lyle Lovett exists on his compilation Here I Am — The Lyle Lovett Collection and on the album Deadicated: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead. Both were released in 1991.
- Cleveland, Ohio based rock trio Hot Ham & Cheese released a punk version of the song in 2008.
- In 2011, Cosmo Jarvis covered the song Video on YouTube for TheMusic in Australia.
- In 2013, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers covered this song at both the 2013 Hangout Music Festival and the 2013 Bonnaroo Music Festival.
- John Mayer covered this song on his 2013 Born and Raised World Tour
- In 2007, The Get Down Syndrome recorded a version of the song for an in house demo at The Current on the Richmond Canal
- Ramblin' Jack Elliott recorded a cover version for his album Friends of Mine in 1998
- Dave Matthews Band (with guest Béla Fleck) covered this song at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on July 4, 2015 to commemorate the Grateful Dead's final performances together, which were taking place the same weekend at Soldier Field in Chicago.
- Mumford & Sons covered this song in 2016 as part of the Day of the Dead (2016 album) collaboration project.
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Friend Of The Devil
Music:Jerry Garcia, John Dawson
The Dead song most covered by other people since it was first released on "American Beauty."
I lit out from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds (note a)Notes
Didn't get to sleep that night till the morning came around
Set out running but I take my time
A friend of the devil is a friend of mine
If I get home before daylight I just might get some sleep
I ran into the devil babe, he loaned me twenty bills
I spent the night in Utah in a cave up in the hills
I ran down to the levee but the devil caught me there (note b)
He took my twenty dollar bill and vanished in the air
Got two reasons why I cry away each lonely night
The first one's named sweet Anne Marie and she's my heart's delight
Second one is prison baby, sheriff's on my trail (note c)(note d)
And if he catches up with me I'll spend my life in jail
Got a wife in Chino babe, and one in Cherokee
First one says she's got my child but it don't look like me
(a) in very early versions (eg 3 April 1970), Jerry sang "I set out from Reno, I was trailed by thirty hounds.
(b) in some early versions, Jerry sang a different verse:
I went to the levee but the devil caught my scent(c) in early versions (eg 3 April 1970), Jerry sang "sheriff's on my tail" rather than "... on my trail"
So I coughed two hundred bills to pay back what was lent
(d) in a version with Comfort on 18 March 1978, Robert Hunter sang:
Second one is hell fire, the devil is on my trailRobert Hunter wrote another verse that he performed himself (eg on "Jack O' Roses"). See also below for the evolution of Robert Hunter's lyrics into their final form.
And if he catches up with me I'll spend my life in hell
You can borrow from the devil, you can borrow from a friend
But the devil will give you twenty, when your friend got only ten
|Grateful Dead Recordings|
|studio 1971||American Beauty (note 1)|
|18 Apr 1970||Family Dog at the Great Highway|
|2 May 1970||Dick's Picks Vol 8|
|15 May 1970||Road Trips Vol 3 No 3 (early show)|
|15 May 1970||American Beauty (late show) (note 2)|
|7 Jun 1970||30 Days Of The Dead (2011)(note 6)|
|1 Jul 1970||Festival Express (DVD) (note 3)|
|25 Aug 1972||Dave's Picks Volume 24|
|17 Sep 1972||Dick's Picks Vol 23|
|21 Sep 1972||Dick's Picks Vol 36|
|24 Sep 1972||30 Trips Around The Sun|
|27 Sep 1972||Dick's Picks Vol 11|
|18 Sep 1974||30 Trips Around The Sun|
|28 Sep 1976||Dick's Picks Vol 20|
|10 Oct 1976||Dick's Picks Vol 33|
|30 Apr 1977||Download Series Vol 1|
|7 May 1977||May 1977: Get Shown The Light Box|
|13 May 1977||May 1977 Box Set|
|18 May 1977||30 Days Of The Dead (2013)|
|7 Jun 1977||Winterland June 1977 - The Complete Recordings|
|3 Sep 1977||Dick's Picks Vol 15|
|6 Nov 1977||Dave's Picks Volume 25|
|24 Apr 1978||Dave's Picks Volume 7|
|17 May 1978||30 Days Of The Dead (2016)|
|11 May 1978||Dick's Picks Vol 25|
|1 Jul 1978||July 1978: The Complete Recordings|
|7 Jul 1978||July 1978: The Complete Recordings|
|31 Dec 1978||The Closing Of Winterland (DVD & CD)|
|5 Nov 1979||Road Trips Full Show: Spectrum 11/5/79|
|26 Dec 1979||Dick's Picks Vol 5|
|Sep-Oct 1980||Dead Set(note 10)|
|16 May 1981||30 Trips Around The Sun|
|9 Dec 1981||Dave's Picks Volume 20|
|24 Jul 1987||View From The Vault IV (CD soundtrack only)|
|2 Jul 1989||All The Year's Combine (DVD bonus disc)|
|12 Jul 1989||RFK Stadium 1989 Box|
|18 Mar 1990||Spring 1990 (The Other One)|
|16 Jun 1990||View From The Vault III (video/DVD & CD soundtrack)|
|21 Feb 1995||30 Trips Around The Sun|
|4 Jul 2015||Fare Thee Well (CD and DVD)|
|17 Nov 1975||Jerry Garcia Collection, Volume 2: Let It Rock||Jerry Garcia Band|
|8 Nov 1976||Garcia Live Volume 7||Jerry Garcia Band|
|29 Jul 1977||Pure Jerry: Theater 1839||Jerry Garcia Band|
|28 Feb 1986||Pure Jerry: Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium||Jerry Garcia/John Kahn|
|1980||Jack O'Roses||Robert Hunter|
|7 Dec 1991||Grateful Dawg||Garcia/Grisman (DVD and CD)|
|Spring 1991||Garcia/Grisman||Garcia/Grisman (note 5)|
|1992||Nightfall Of Diamonds||Tom Constanten|
|15 Sep 1993||Live On Letterman||Garcia & Grisman|
|1996||Friends Of Mine||Rambling Jack Elliot (with Bob Weir)|
|25 Jul 1998||The Strange Remain||The Other Ones|
|5 Jun 1999||Love Will See You Through||Phil Lesh & Friends|
|1999||4th Annual Gathering On The Mountain||Tom Constanten|
|2000||Grateful Dreams||Tom Constanten|
|25 Apr 2001||Live At The Roseland||Ratdog|
|12 Jun 2001||KFOG Live From The Archives 8||Phil Lesh & Friends|
|2012||Bryan Stow Benefit Concert||Tim Flannery with Bob Weir (DVD)|
|2013||Move Me Brightly||Bob Weir et al (DVD - bonus track)|
|(Plus live recordings by The Dead, Furthur, Dead & Company, Ratdog, Phil Lesh & Friends etc not listed here. See Grateful Dead Family Discography for a full list.)|
|1996||Long Live The Dead||Billy & Terry Smith|
|1997||Pickin' On The Grateful Dead||David West et al|
|1999||Swingin' To The Grateful Dead||Steve Marsh et al|
|?1999||Stolen Roses||Bob Dylan|
|2000||Dead Grass||Vasar Clements et al|
|2000||Wake The Dead||Danny Carnahan et al|
|2001||Blues Tribute To The Grateful Dead||Various (Langhorne Slim)|
|2001||Gifts From The Dead||Gifts From The Dead|
|2002||Electronic Tribute To The Grateful Dead||Various (Radha Kali)|
|2003||Ukelele Summit 5||Various (Ka'Au Crater Boys)|
|2003||Grateful Guitar||David Cullen|
|2005||Jerry Jams, Jerry Cares||C Lanzbom|
|2007||At Fine Arts Center, UMass||The American Beauty Project|
|2010||Yoga Tribute To Grateful Dead||Yoga Pop Ups (note 8)|
|2010||At Page Auditorium, Duke University||The American Beauty Project|
|2011||The Wheel: A Musical Celebration of Jerry Garcia||Jesse McReynolds, David Nelson et al|
|2014||Grateful Dead Bluegrass Tribute||David Holodiloff|
|2015||The Promised Land||Sagol 59 & Ami Yares|
|14 May 2015||Dear Jerry: Celebrating The Music Of Jerry Garcia||Bob Weir & Grace Potter|
|2015||Songs Of Their Own||Dead Winter Carpenters|
|2016||Day Of The Dead||Mumford & Sons|
|Covers By Other Artists|
|1971||Don't Drag It On||Chris Smither|
|1979||Done Gone Band||Done Gone Band|
|1979||South Loomis Quickstep||South Loomis Quickstep|
|1980||Painted Lady||Knoxville Grass|
|1992||Desperados Waiting For The Train||Texas Lone Star|
|1992||Keep On Keepin' On||New Riders Of The Purple Sage|
|1993||Live In Japan||New Riders Of The Purple Sage|
|1994||Bridge School Concerts||Ministry|
|1996||Another Way To Find You||Chris Smither|
|1997||Valley Style||Ka'Au Crater Boys|
|1997||Live In Japan||Mike Wilhelm|
|1998||Travel The Gravel||The Kruger Brothers|
|1999||Too Many Years||Jorma Kaukonen|
|1999||[self titled]||Rice, Rice, Hillman & Pedersen|
|1999||Out Among The Stars||Modern Hicks|
|1999||Sawin' On The Strings||Tabasco Donkeys|
|1999||Live||Jorma Kaukonen Trio|
|1999||Halfway Home||Sno Rogers|
|1999||Party In Your Pants||The Bison Chips|
|2000||Pour Me Another Cup Of Coffee||Recidivists|
|2000||Lost Marbles||Lost Marbles|
|2000||Monsters Of Folk Rock||The Devilish DoubleDylans|
|200?||Drunk At The Stone Ballroom||Love Seed Mama Jump|
|200?||Don't Mind The Rain||Jessica Bryan|
|200?||The Privateers||The Privateers|
|200?||Live At The Crow's Nest: Eleven O'Clock Set||Darrell Lawhorne|
|200?||No Matter Of Age||Schluff Jull|
|2001||Against The Grain||Mountain Laurel|
|2001||Take Cover||Andrew Freeman|
|2001||The Midnight Special||Tokyo Bob with Never Mending Tour Band|
|2002||The Danny Thompson Band Live||Danny Thompson Band|
|2002||Pickin' & Grinnin'||South Austin Jug Band|
|2002||Outside The Lines||Cory Morrow|
|2003||Pass The Chicken Wine||Murphy's InLaws|
|2003||Live! The Rhumb Line||Tom Eaton and Pick 3|
|2003||Unreleased Cutz and Live Jamz||Mouldy Peaches|
|2003||Films About Ghosts||Counting Crows|
|2003||Live At Lock 3||Brick Road Ramblers|
|2004||Texacousticana||Guy Schwartz and The New Jack Hippies|
|2004||On The Road July 20 2004||String Cheese Incident (note 9)|
|200?||Land of the Cover Band: "Live" Vol 1||Paul Rader|
|2005||Just Add Salt||Mike Aiken|
|2005||It Ain't The Years||Duke City Swampcoolers|
|2005||Kudzi||Run Of The Mill (note 7)|
|2006||Life And Hard Times Of Guy Terrifico (Soundtrack)||Various Artists|
|2006||Test Of Time||Lalla Rookh|
|2007||Time Machine||Outta Scope|
|2007||Live from Austin, TX||Cory Morrow|
|2007||Settin' the Table, Company's Comin'||Stringin' Along|
|2007||Movin' On||Kettel & Soluna Samay|
|2007||Days Go By||Call It Karma|
|2008||Revolution and Revelations||Hot Ham and Cheese|
|2008||Live At The San Gregorio General Store||Gary Gates Band|
|2008||Celtic Evolution||Padraigh Allen|
|27 Jun 2009||Crystal Bay Live||David Nelson Band|
|2009||Turning Point||Steve Kimock & Friends|
|2009||Live At Pineapple Willy's||Ben Prestage|
|2009||The Live Anthology||Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers|
|2009||Make It Rain||Keith Greeninger & Dayan Kai|
|2010||Full Circle||Roger Kardinal|
|2010||Use Your Hands||Connor Desai|
|2010||Cake On Cake||Tail|
|2010||Spiral||Dave Wilson Quartet|
|2010||And The Adventures Of Captain Ward||The Demon Barbers|
|2011||Take Me On Home||The Moonshine Rooster Band|
|2011||Follow Through||Zane Charron|
|2011||On A Roll||The Chilli Dogs|
|2011||The Cimarron Sessions||Kyle Everett|
|2011||Biking With Beverly||Blacktop Blend|
|?2012||Karaoke Legends, Vol. 45||Unknown|
|2012||Live At Frysja 33||Four Gallon Flush|
|2012||Think Bigger||Cosmo Jarvis|
|2012||Road 20||K. C. Craine|
|2012||West End String Band||West End String Band|
|2012||Electric Hay: Live||Rollin' In The Hay|
|2012||Buck Satan & 666 Shooters||Bikers Welcome Ladies Drink Free|
|2013||Echoes Of The Outlaw Roadshow||Counting Crows|
|2013||Outside Lands||Tim Flannery (with Bob Weir)|
|2013||These Days||Alex Riffle & The Stiff-Riffs|
|2013||Live At Mr. Ricci's Coconut Tree Lounge||Trailer Trash|
|2014||Oct 30 2014 New York NY||The Infamous Stringdusters (note 9)|
|2014||Working Title||Eastern Electric Co.|
|2015||Oct 10 2015 Evanston IL||Anders Osborne|
|2016||The Country Blues||Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley|
(1) also on the compilations Skeletons From The Closet, The Very Best Of The Grateful Dead and The Best Of The Grateful Dead.
(2) included as a bonus track on remastered album, first released as part of the box set The Golden Road (1965-1973). Also released on Road Trips Vol 3 No 3
(3) this is only a fragment, recorded at a free concert in Toronto
(4) versions of "Friend Of The Devil" are on various of String Cheese Incident's "On The Road" releases.
(5) alternate take also available as a download.
(6) also released in 30 Days Of The Dead (2017)
(7) the track listed as "Blackberry Devil" is a fusion of Blackberry Blossom and Friend Of The Devil
(8) also released as "Lullaby Versions of Grateful Dead"
(9) The list above includes only one illustrative example of the series of live recordings by these artists. For a full list see the Grateful Dead Family Discography.
(10) also on the compilation The Best Of The Grateful Dead Live
The lyrics changed somewhat during the development of the song. This is the version in Robert Hunter's handwritten lyrics:
I lit out from Reno, baby, trailed by twenty houndsThere is a also a poor-quality recording of John Dawson singing this in a studio in 1969 (probably with Robert Hunter and some members of the Dead):
I didn't stop that night, or till the next one came around
I ran into the devil, baby, he loaned me twenty bills
I stayed that night in Utah in a cave up in the hills
I walked out on a levee, baby, the devil found me there
Said don't forget that twenty, babe, and vanished in the air
I snuck back into Reno, baby, parlayed fifty cents(note 5)
Made it to five thousand, babe, and paid back what was lent
I lit out from Reno, I was trailed by twenty houndsNotes
Didn't stop to sleep that night till the morning came around
I ran into the devil, baby, he loaned me twenty bills
I went to sleep in a bed that night in a cave up in the hills
I ran down to the levee but the devil caught my scent
So I coughed twenty dollars babe to pay back what was lent
Got a [?], baby, one in [?] (note 6)
The first one's named forgot you, baby, other [?}
Got two reasons why I cry away each lonely night
The first one's named sweet Anne Marie and she's my [true] delight
Other one is prison baby, law is on my tail
[And if he catches up with me] I'll spend my life in jail
I lit out from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds
Didn't stop to sleep that night till the morning came around
(I have omitted the chorus from the lyrics above as it didn't change)
(5) originally "played my last fifty cents"
(6) I'm not sure whether John Dawson forgets the words to this verse, or whether they are just inaudible
In his journal for 23 February 2006 Robert Hunter gave this account of writing the song:
"I was just remembering how Friend of the Devil got written. First off I wrote these four verses one afternoon back in 1969.
"I was living in Madrone canyon with the Garcias. The NRPS had asked me if I wanted to play bass with them and it seemed like a good idea at the time. So I worked up that song on bass, added a few verses plus a chorus and went over to where David Nelson and John Dawson were living in Kentfield and taught them the tune. The "Sweet Anne Marie" verse which was later to become a bridge was only one of the verses, not yet a bridge. The chorus went:I set out running but I take my time"I'd changed the fourth verse, about parlaying the twenty dollars into five thousand and, except for the all important Friend of the Devil hook, the lyrics were pretty much as they stand today minus a fifth verse which goes:
It looks like water but it tastes like wine
If I get home before daylight
I just might get some sleep tonightYou can borrow from the Devil"We all went down to the kitchen to have espresso made in Dawson's new machine. We got to talking about the tune and John said the verses were nifty except for "it looks like water but it tastes like wine" which I had to admit fell flat. Suddenly Dawson's eyes lit up and he crowed "How about "a friend of the devil is a friend of mine." Bingo, not only the right line but a memorable title as well! We ran back upstairs to Nelson's room and recorded the tune. I took the tape home and left it on the kitchen table. Next morning I heard earlybird Garcia (who hadn't been at the rehearsal - had a gig, you know) wanging away something familiar sounding on the peddle steel. Danged if it wasn't "Friend of the Devil." With a dandy bridge on the "sweet Anne Marie" verse. He was not in the least apologetic about it. He'd played the tape, liked it, and faster than you can say dog my cats it was in the Grateful Dead repertoire. Although I learned all the tunes, I never did play a gig with the NRPS, who were doing strictly club dates at the time. For one reason or another I never quite fathomed, though I have my suspicions, I got shut out. Either that or I misread the signs and wasn't inclined to push. Nothing was ever said. In any event, a fellow named Dave Torbert showed up about that time. Just as well. One dedicated songwriter in the band was enough."
You can borrow from a friend
But the Devil give you twenty
When your friend got only ten
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For information on references in the lyrics see David Dodd's Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
For David Dodd's discussion of this song on dead.net see Greatest Stories Ever Told
For online chords and TAB see www.rukind.com
For sheet music, see:
Grateful Dead Anthology Volume 1 (piano arrangement)
Grateful Dead Authentic Guitar Classics Volume 1 (guitar TAB)
Grateful Dead Songbook Volume 1 (piano arrangement)
Jerry Garcia Songbook (vocal line and chords)
Very Best Of The Grateful Dead (guitar TAB)
Garcia/Hunter Songbook (vocal line and chords/TAB)
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