“The Devil Inside” – recorded by INXS
In 1979-80, The Charlie Daniels Band song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” became a very popular song in the South and would be used on the soundtrack for the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy” starring John Travolta and Debra Winger. Patsy Swayze, mother of Patrick Swayze, was the film’s choreographer.
I was a fan of the song by The Charlie Daniels Band and even used it to come up with a skit with friends at a Christian camp in Georgia in the summer of 1980. After being discovered, the idea of the “man sells his soul to the devil” became the basis for many songs I made up after learning about the “crossroad” myth associated with Robert Johnson who died at the age of 27. I also often accused Michael Hutchence and others of selling themselves in exchange for fame.
During this time I was being introduced to the music of David Bowie who would go on to records songs I made up, such as “Cat People (Putting Out the Fire)”. Many years later, Kurt Cobain heard me singing Bowie’s 1970 song The Man Who Sold the World while warming up and decided to record a cover.
Kurt, before he faked his death at the age of 27 in 1994, was often tweaking his public persona while I made up songs he would record. When he decided to say he had been diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) as a child, I made up the song known as “Sail” recorded by the group I named Awolnation.
The imagery for the song came from the idea of an auctioneer harking “sell”, instead of “sold”. The lyrics were also written to reflect the point of view of Kurt, with “Maybe I should kill myself” and “Blame it on my ADD”.
Another song I wrote during this time was “Come With Me Now” eventually recorded by the group I named the “Kongos”. It also reflects the theme of a man coming to a crossroads inspired by the blues great Robert Johnson.
Some of the songs I made up were a cross between rock and country which were recorded by Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and many others. In early 2000, I had the chance to come up with the idea for a CMT television show with artists who recorded my songs which includes Robert Plant with Allison Krauss, Kenny Rogers with Alabama native Lionel Richie, and Def Leppard with Taylor Swift. In honor of Robert Johnson, I named the show “Crossroads”.