The Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter Kevin Welch doesn’t seem to know much about New Jersey. “What kind of team is that? Hockey? Basketball?” he asks, regarding the New Jersey Devils, in the performance clip below.
But if anyone has written a better song about the legendary Jersey Devil itself — and that includes Bruce Springsteen, whose “A Night With the Jersey Devil” is one of his least interesting songs — I am not aware of it.
I like the song’s quietly insistent guitar riff, and the down-home images of the Jersey Devil dancing in his moccasins, and stealing a peach pie off a window sill. I like the way Welch retells the story of the mythical creature in the middle of the song. And I like the way this verse sounds like something someone might actually say: “Well, I’m tellin’ you man, that ain’t no bobcat screaming/I tell you that ain’t no tricky wind/Tellin’ you, man, that I heard something/I don’t ever want to hear again.”
Welch released the song on the 2004 You Can’t Save Everybody album he released in collaboration with Kieran Kane and Fats Kaplin.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.