This was the first song Skip James recorded in 1931 for Paramount Records, and also the first song he sang at his historic Newport Folk Festival performance in 1964. James had just been rediscovered in June of that year in a Tunica, Mississippi, hospital. With only a borrowed guitar, James opened his 15-minute set with, ‘I’d rather be the devil, than to be that woman’s man’. James took up guitar around 1917 under the tutelage of Son Stuckey, who played a piece called ‘Devil Got My Woman. James’ music never had the uplifting entertainment value of others like John Hurt or Charley Patton. Instead, James’ goal was to startle with his musicianship and emotional tones. In 1924, James suffered a near breakdown when his short-lived marriage to a 16-year-old daughter of a clergyman ended with her running off with a male friend; though James knew the title, ‘Devil Got My Woman’ could be his cold assessment of that event. When James auditioned for H.C. Speir in Jackson, Mississippi, he needed only two stanzas of ‘Devil Got My Woman’ to get a two-year recording contract with Paramount Records. Though James’ ‘Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues’ was revived in the movie, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, ‘Devil Got My Woman’ remains the quintessential Skip James song.

— (Blues Foundation press release, 2006.)