I'd Rather Be The Devil

Written by: 
Skip James
1 Feb 1973

I'd rather be the devil,
Than I would be my woman's man;
Yes I'd rather be the devil,
Than I would be my woman's man.
'Cause nothing but the devil,
Knows my baby's -
Nothing but the devil,
Knows my baby's -
Nothing but the devil,
Knows my baby's mind.

Well I laid down last night,
And I was trying to take my rest;
Yes I laid down, last night,
I was trying to take a little rest.
Well my mind starts rambling
Like a wild geese in the -
Well my mind starts rambling
Like a wild geese in the -
Well my mind starts rambling
Like a wild geese in the west.

Yes the woman that I love,
Well she's evil all the time;
Yeah, the woman that I love,
She's evil all the time.
She did so much evil,
Just to have it on -
So much evil,
Just to have it on -
So much evil,
Just to have it on and on.

And the woman that I love,
Stole her from my best friend;
The woman I love,
I stole her from my best friend.
But I know he'll get lucky,
Steal her back -
I know he'll get lucky
Trying to steal her back -
I know he'll get lucky,
Steal her back again.

[echoplex outrol]

muffnote:
Martyn used to play I'd Rather Be The Devil in his earlier acoustic sets; this version grew out of his first experiments with Echoplex. The song by Nehimiah 'Skip' James was originally titled Devil Got My Woman. John switched the original 'change my baby's mind' for 'knows my baby's mind'.
Skip James recorded this song in 1931 but it was rereleased 1968 together with I'm So Glad, which inspired Cream.

It is likely that John got to know this song in the Les Cousins folk club (49 Greek Street, Soho). Al Jones was a guitar player that performed Rather Be The Devil there in May 1969. The track was recorded for a live album as follow-up of Alun Ashworth Jones (1969, Parlophone PMC 7081) that was never released. But it popped up in 2001 as a bonus track on the Mooncrest CD Alun Ashworth Jones (CRESTCD068). The atmosphere is more Jackson C. Frank than John's interpretation, though.

First release: