The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #54140   Message #837519
Posted By: Richie
29-Nov-02 - 09:20 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Dixie
Subject: RE: Origins: Dixie
Here's some info on the Hays dispute and a bit about the origin of the word.

[From the Richmond Dispatch, March 19, 1893.]
Dan Emmett its Author and New York the Place of Its Production.

"Sunday afternoon he had the words, commencing: "I wish I was in Dixie." This colloquial expression was not, as most people suppose, a Southern phrase, but first appeared among the circus people of the North. In early fall, when nipping frosts would overtake the tented wanderers, the boys would think of the genial warmth of that section for which they were heading, and the common expression would be, "Well, I wish I was down in Dixie."


       This gave the catch line: the rest of the song was original. On Monday morning the song was rehearsed and highly commended, and at night a crowded house caught up the refrain and half the audience went home whistling "Dixie." Bryant gave Emmett $5 for his work. The song became the rage, and "Newcombe's," "Buckley's," and other minstrel bands paid Emmett $5 for the privilege of using it. Mr. Werlean, of New Orleans, wrote to Emmett to secure the copyright, but, without waiting for an answer, published it with the words by Mr. Peters, of New York. He afterwards secured the copyright from Emmett and gave him $600. But Werlean sold thousands of copies without giving Dan a nickel. Not only was Emmett robbed of the profit of his songs, but its authorship was disputed. Will F. Hays claimed it as his own.


       Pond brought the matter before a musical publishers' convention and settled the question of authorship; but Dan reaped no benefit from this tardy justice."

Since Hays disputed the authorship, it would be interesting to hear his side of the story. How can we find that?

Emmett is notorious for borrowing and arranging material that he did not author. Emmett might of won the case because he had the political and economic backing, and not because he was the author. Obviously, he penned/arranged some of the lyrics. The fact that the song was a hit for his publisher made it important to establish Emmett as the sole author.

Was he?