The Christian Life

Album: Satan Is Real (1959)

Songfacts®:

  • The Louvin Brothers were a country music duo who started their career in gospel music in the 1940s. Many of their songs reflected their Baptist faith, which was a hard path for them to follow in their personal lives, at least for Ira Louvin, whose hot temper and alcoholism alienated them from other Opry performers and eventually led to the duo's split. In this song, they find pleasure in "heeding God's call," but feel sadness when their friends shun them for choosing to follow Jesus.
  • Satan Is Real is famous for its bizarre album cover, designed by Ira Louvin, which depicts the brothers performing in a burning rock quarry while a 12-foot-tall Satan towers over them with a pitchfork.
  • The Byrds recorded this song on their 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo at the suggestion of their guitarist, Gram Parsons. Parsons originally recorded the song himself but due to contract problems preventing him singing on the album, his vocals were replaced by guitarist Roger McGuinn's.

    McGuinn has claimed that the Louvins song was the only one on the album where he was tongue-in-cheek. The Byrds bassist Chris Hillman was unhappy about McGuinn's re-recording. He told Uncut magazine March 2008: "I found the song on the borderline of being offensive. Gram's vocal is more sincere. He was very religious, underneath it all. Even with his excesses. There's an undercurrent, I guess because of his Southern upbringing. He was like a little Christian boy who went backsliding."
  • Charlie Louvin was grateful to Gram Parsons for helping to keep the Louvin Brothers' legacy alive, especially by introducing the duo's work to other artists. "I would have to thank Gram Parsons for introducing the Louvin Brothers sound to Emmylou [Harris]," he told No Depression magazine in 1996. "Emmylou tells me that Gram said, 'I've got something here I want you to hear.' And he played it, and Emmylou said, 'Who is that girl singin' the high part?' And he said, 'That's not a girl, that's Ira Louvin.' And she has been very kind to the Louvin Brothers music catalog; she cut about four of five of our songs."

Comments: 2

  • Niles from Belpre, OhAh--- Sweetheart of the rodeo,,, darn -near wore the record out... I still have it, by the way
  • Kevin from Reading , PaIt's ironic that McGuinn did choose to kind of yuk-it-up when he took over the lead vocal, because he himself ended up being a devoted Christian. In his defense, it seems more like he's doing a Gram Parsons imitation than deliberatley making a mockery of a song that is an ode to living a religious life.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Steve Morse of Deep Purple

Steve Morse of Deep PurpleSongwriter Interviews

Deep Purple's guitarist since 1994, Steve talks about writing songs with the band and how he puts his own spin on "Smoke On The Water."

Brandi Carlile

Brandi CarlileSongwriter Interviews

As a 5-year-old, Brandi was writing lyrics to instrumental versions lullabies. She still puts her heart into her songs, including the one Elton John sings on.

Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)

Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)Songwriter Interviews

Before "Rap" was a form of music, it was something guys did to pick up girls in nightclubs. Donnie talks about "The Rapper" and reveals the identity of Leah.

Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds

Jim McCarty of The YardbirdsSongwriter Interviews

The Yardbirds drummer explains how they created their sound and talks about working with their famous guitarists.

Facebook, Bromance and Email - The First Songs To Use New Words

Facebook, Bromance and Email - The First Songs To Use New WordsSong Writing

Do you remember the first time you heard "email" in a song? How about "hater" or "Facebook"? Here are the songs where they first showed up.

Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")

Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")Songwriter Interviews

Phil was a songwriter, producer and voice behind many Philadelphia soul classics. When disco hit, he got an interesting project: The Village People.