To Beat The Devil

Album: Kristofferson (1970)
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  • A couple of years back I come across a great and wasted friend of mine in the hallway of a recording studio. And while he was reciting some poetry to me that he had written, I saw that he was about a step away from dying, and I couldn't help but wonder why. And the lines of this song occurred to me. I'm happy to say he's no longer wasted, and he's got him a good woman. And I'd like to dedicate this to John and June, who helped showed me how to beat the devil.

    It was wintertime in Nashville
    Down on Music City Row
    And I was looking for a place
    And to get myself out of the cold
    To warm the frozen feeling that was eating at my soul
    Keep the chilly wind off my guitar
    My thirsty wanted whiskey
    But my hunger needed beans
    But it had been a month of paydays
    Since I'd heard that eagle scream
    So with a stomach full of empty
    And a pocket full of dreams
    I left my pride and stepped inside a bar
    Actually I'd guess you'd call it a tavern
    Cigarette smoke to the ceiling
    And sawdust on the floor
    Friendly shadows
    I saw that there was just one old man sitting at the bar
    And in the mirror I could see him checking me and my guitar
    And he turned and said,
    Come up here, boy, and show us what you are
    I said I'm dry, and he bought me a beer
    He nodded at my guitar and said,
    It's a tough life, ain't it?
    I just looked at him
    He said, you ain't making any money, are you?
    I said, you been reading my mail
    He just smiled and said, let me see that guitar
    I got something you ought to hear
    And then he laid it on me

    If you waste your time a talking
    To the people who don't listen
    To the things that you are saying
    Who do you thinks gonna hear?
    And if you should die explaining how
    The things that they complain about
    Are things they could be changing
    Who do you thinks gonna care?
    There were other lonely singers
    In a world turned deaf and blind
    Who were crucified for what they tried to show
    And their voices have been scattered by the swirling winds of time
    ‘Cause the truth remains that no one wants to know

    Well the old man was a stranger
    But I'd heard his song before
    Back when failure had me locked out
    On the wrong side of the door
    When no one stood behind me
    But my shadow on the floor
    And lonesome was more than a state of mind
    You see, the devil haunts a hungry man
    If you don't want to join him
    You gotta beat him
    I ain't saying I beat the devil
    But I drank his beer for nothing
    Then I stole his song

    And you still can hear me singing
    To the people who don't listen
    To the things that I am saying
    Praying someone's gonna hear
    And I guess I'll die explaining how
    The things that they complain about
    Are things they could be changing
    Hoping someone's gonna care
    I was born a lonely singer
    And I'm bound to die the same
    But I've gotta feed the hunger in my soul
    And if I never have a nickel
    I won't ever die ashamed
    ‘Cause I don't believe that no one wants to know Writer/s: KRISTOFFER KRISTOFFERSON
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

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