"Friend of the Devil" as written by and Jerry Garcia....
I lit up from Reno
I was trailed by twenty hounds
Didn't get to sleep that night
Till the morning came around

I set out running but I'll take my time
A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine
If I get home before daylight
I just might get some sleep tonight

I ran into the Devil, babe
He loaned me twenty bills
I spent that night in Utah
In a cave up in the hills

I set out running but I take my time
A friend of the devil is a friend of mine
If I get home before daylight
I just might get some sleep tonight

I ran down to the levee
But the Devil caught me there
He took my twenty dollar bill
And he vanished in the air

I set out running but I take my time
A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine
If I get home before daylight
I just might get some sleep tonight

Got two reasons why I cry
Away each lonely night
The first one's named sweet Anne Marie
And she's my heart's delight
Second one is prison, baby
The sheriff's on my trail
And if he catches up with me
I'll spend my life in jail

Got a wife in Chino, babe
And one in Cherokee
First one says she's got my child
But it don't look like me

I set out running but I take my time
A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine
If I get home before daylight
I just might get some sleep tonight

Got two reasons why I cry
Away each lonely night
The first one's named sweet Anne Marie
And she's my heart's delight
Second one is prison, baby
The sheriff's on my trail
And if he catches up with me
I'll spend my life in jail

Got a wife in Chino, babe
The one in Cherokee
The first one says she's got my child
But it don't look like me

I set out running but I take my time
A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine
If I get home before daylight
I just might get some sleep tonight


Lyrics submitted by capitol76

"Friend of the Devil" as written by John C. Dawson Jerome J. Garcia

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Friend of the Devil song meanings
Add your thoughts

39 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +3
    General Commentlost in space, my dad is just like this song too. haha. he tells me of his drug days, his running from the cop days, his VW bus days, and the one time he bumped into jerry garcia in a bar. he's always told me this song is one of his favorites.

    as to what its about, i'm almost positive the devil is cocaine.
    articulateson February 09, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentFor the record there is a final verse that Garcia decided to ommit:

    You can borrow from the Devil
    You can borrow from a Friend
    The Devil will give you Twenty
    When a friend's got only Ten

    Set out running .....
    Hedgeson June 08, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJust an absolutely amazing song. It was written by Robert Hunter (the lyricist for the Dead - check out the original hand-written version - dead.net/RobertHunterArchive/files/HandwrittenLyrics/…)

    My thought has always been that this song is about the choices we make -- sometimes stealing from Peter to pay off Paul. Sometimes picking the wrong ally for the right reasons. Indebting ourselves to those that are negative influences in our lives.

    There's a general feeling that the "hounds" are devil dogs, and that the writer can't sleep until he's in the "protection" of his home, or else the hounds of hell will steal his soul.

    I also wonder if this song is about chosing to go against the status quo. "An enemy of my enemy is my friend." Kind of fighting against the church by siding with their enemy. Lashing out at "The Man," in a sort of protest against popular morality.
    Sir_Larrikinon December 04, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti have only heard the Counting Crows version, but it's pretty much the same. A guy is running from the cops because of his past wrongdoings and i think he has singed a deal with the devil. the devil has done these bad things with him and for that the devil wont leave until its all cleared up.
    guitarjoe93on June 09, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI was a freshman at Emory University when I first heard this song as my friend Jerry was playing it on the guitar in his dorm room...He always sang,
    got 2 reasons why I cry, awake each lonely night…first one’s name sweet Emory, and she’s my heart’s delight
    That is what I thought until today, some 40 years later... There is a Thank you Jerry concert on axsTV and I saw in the subtitles, it’s really Anna Marie, not Emory….
    At school, I hung out with a bunch of Deadheads, and a love for this band is probably the most meaningful thing I got from my college education that has remained with me to this day…
    The Dead’s music is full of disjointed lyrics, that don’t seem to mean anything. Yet there is very powerful imagery in few words. And the music is the vehicle which the words ride upon, sometimes senseless, yet perfect in the spinning, psychedelic musical place that is a Grateful Dead concert….
    SollyInLAon August 31, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one of the coolest songs I've ever heard. Especiallly Jerry and David's version. I think it might be some kind of analogy for something, but I think it describes this dude's life. He's dealt with the devil, he's always running away from the cops, he's got a couple wives, he's hiding in the hills of Reno territory. You get the picture.
    slugsinthefieldson March 04, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentslugsinthefields i agree, its a song about somebody running away from the police, the devil being other criminal or people in run from the law also who help him be on his way, simple a brillant song, ofcourse the best version is the grateful dead version :)
    jonosuron April 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentone of the best
    sugarmagnoliaon September 27, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe song is pure nostalgia for me... this song embodies my dad. not only do we share our love for the dead but the song always reminded me of him.. always on the run with the devil... never quite able to tie himself down to responsibilities or traditional conventions of life. people like that can equally bring the most joy and pain to life, you just have to accept thats how they are and learn to love it :) a friend of the devil IS a friend of mine
    urlostinspacelikemeon January 04, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmy friend and I were trying to interpret this song does anyone know for sure what the songwriter was trying to tell us.
    I think it means theguy was a drug addict escaping from prison and the devil is drugs and no matter how hard he tried to get home to annemarie the devil got in the way his other wife was prison
    edie828on January 29, 2005   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain