Thursday, February 25, 2010

“If you don’t give him shelter, he’ll have no place to hide.”

There are a few songs that have remained in my head over the years. One of the great things about the internet, is that in some cases, I am able to resolve their origins, or the words that I forgot. “The Devil” is one of those songs. I first heard it in the late 1970s on WEBN-FM, sung a capella by a man whose identity I never learned. It was back in the days when FM radio was more hip than AM radio, because FM stations didn't interrupt the songs with a lot of inane chatter. So you had to listen to five or six songs before they went through the list and told you.

Hoyt Axton was a folksinger's folksinger, which is to say that he was better known for contributing to others' songlists than to his own. This is one of the songs he wrote but didn't keep to himself. The video clip is from his November 1978 performance on the PBS series Austin City Limits. It's not the same as the one I first heard, but the words are all there.

Axton died of a heart attack in 1999, at the age of 61. I wish I could ask him what he was trying to say.

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