Solving the problem of evil in the twenty-first century

“Tribute” by Tenacious D

It is common knowledge that most of the work done by Jack Black isn’t meant to be taken seriously.  Whether it is through his movies or his band, Tenacious D, Black’s goal is always to make his audience laugh.  This is clearly demonstrated in his band’s most famous song, “Tribute,” and the music video they made for it.  The story of “Tribute” is very similar to the story of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”  It is about Black’s and Kyle Gas’s (his band-mate) encounter the devil while walking down a road together.  The devil challenges the two to create the best song in the world and threatens to eat their souls if they fail.  The two accept the challenge and stun the devil when they do, in fact, play “the best song in the world.”  After they perform the song for the devil, he asks them if they are angels.  Black responds by saying “Nay.  We are but men.”   Then, the devil, who had been defeated by Black and Gas, disappears.  At the very end of the music video the band’s CD is dispensed out of the fake recording studio that the Black and Gas had been performing in.  The cover depicts both men standing naked and smiling while being chained to the devil.  This is ironic to be shown in the music video for “Tribute,” because the song is about man’s victory over the devil, but this cover clearly shows the devil’s power over the men.

Just like in “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” the men are a part of a Faustian bargain.  They accept a challenge by the devil that they easily could have turned down.  However, unlike in Dr. Faustus (and similarly to The Devil Went Down to Georgia), the men beat the devil at his challenge.

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3 responses

  1. nickmehendale

    I enjoyed this post because I don’t think most people would ever really think to go deeper when thinking about Black’s work. I think that this song is a satire of the ridiculousness of things like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”, and the seemingly arbitrary tests people say the Devil places them under.

    May 7, 2011 at 12:29 am

  2. ca9455

    I have seen other works of Jack Black such as Tenacious D the Pick of Detiny and I like how he makes fun of how people associated the devil with rock music just like this song. Alson in the song beelzeboss they face off against the Devil just like in ” The Devil Went Down to Georgia”.

    May 9, 2011 at 6:55 pm

  3. I knew a take on Satan and evil could be represented in many outlets, but I didn’t think I would find Jack Black doing anything like that. I like your connection of Faustus’ bargain with Satan to the bargain the two made here, but seeing that humanity is superior to the devil is something this age would agree more on, given most of the satire now given on him. People don’t fear him, they make fun of him now.

    May 10, 2011 at 5:48 pm

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