Beat The Devil's Tattoo

Album: Beat The Devil's Tattoo (2010)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This is the title track from San Francisco garage rockers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's sixth studio album, Beat The Devil's Tattoo. The majority of the record was written and recorded at The Basement Studio outside Philadelphia, the same place where Howl! was written and recorded half a decade earlier. It was the debut full-length release on the band's own Abstract Dragon label and the first album that their new drummer Leah Shapiro plays on.
  • The song and album title is a phrase gleaned from Edgar Allan Poe's 1839 short story, The Devil In The Belfry. Singer Robert Levon Been explained: "Leah had given me a book of Poe short stories and I'd immersed myself in it. The one phrase 'Beat The Devils Tattoo' leaped out at me though for some reason. I read up on it and found that it originally meant 'the beat of a drum or a bugle signaling soldiers to return to their camps after dark'. But it's a very old lost phrase. These days, I guess it's used whenever anyone anxiously drums their fingers on a table or taps their foot on the ground incessantly, they're 'beating the devil's tattoo.'"
  • Been told Express Night Out about this track: "This is the only song that I was really stoned while writing. I don't recommend it normally to all the kids out there. I was pretty much incapacitated, with no sense of space and time. I was trying to play other things and I jut couldn't do it, and this melody on the guitar was the only thing I could physically play. So I just kept playing it over and over again until it became this mantra that kept me from freaking out.
    I noticed that every 20 seconds in the songs, something changes. It tripped me out. It's actually down to the second - if you actually go through it, down the second there's a change. I wander if my space and time were broken into 20-second intervals, so things only happen for 20 seconds since my brain would start over or I was only present for 20 seconds at a time. Then it would change and I had to restart it. It's spooky."

Comments: 1

  • Fiona from Baton Rouge, LaMy favorite song of all time, 2 years strong
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: Tarantino Edition

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: Tarantino EditionMusic Quiz

Whether he's splitting ears or burning Nazis, Quentin Tarantino uses memorable music in his films. See if you can match the song to the scene.

P.F. Sloan

P.F. SloanSongwriter Interviews

P.F. was a teenager writing hits and playing on tracks for Jan & Dean when he wrote a #1 hit that got him blackballed.

Barry Dean ("Pontoon," "Diamond Rings And Old Barstools")

Barry Dean ("Pontoon," "Diamond Rings And Old Barstools")Songwriter Interviews

A top country songwriter, Barry talks about writing hits for Little Big Town, Tim McGraw and Jason Aldean.

Director Nick Morris ("The Final Countdown")

Director Nick Morris ("The Final Countdown")Song Writing

Nick made some of the biggest videos on MTV, including "The Final Countdown," "Heaven" and "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)."

Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian OrchestraSongwriter Interviews

Writing great prog metal isn't easy, especially when it's for 60 musicians.

Tommy James

Tommy JamesSongwriter Interviews

"Mony Mony," "Crimson and Clover," "Draggin' The Line"... the hits kept coming for Tommy James, and in a plot line fit for a movie, his record company was controlled by the mafia.