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Origins: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

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NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN


Related threads:
Chords Req: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (35)
Chords Req: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (5)


katlaughing 03 Aug 01 - 04:48 PM
GUEST,Tracey Dragonsfriend 03 Aug 01 - 04:57 PM
GUEST 06 Aug 01 - 04:09 PM
GUEST 18 Feb 02 - 09:22 AM
Spartacus 18 Feb 02 - 09:36 AM
Mary in Kentucky 18 Feb 02 - 09:51 AM
Mary in Kentucky 18 Feb 02 - 09:54 AM
Spartacus 18 Feb 02 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,zac 18 Feb 02 - 10:45 AM
Spartacus 18 Feb 02 - 10:48 AM
Mary in Kentucky 18 Feb 02 - 11:28 AM
Gypsy 18 Feb 02 - 11:33 AM
Spartacus 18 Feb 02 - 11:37 AM
Mary in Kentucky 18 Feb 02 - 11:39 AM
HuwG 18 Feb 02 - 12:21 PM
SDShad 18 Feb 02 - 12:26 PM
SDShad 18 Feb 02 - 12:29 PM
Kim C 18 Feb 02 - 05:54 PM
Irish sergeant 18 Feb 02 - 06:19 PM
technission 18 Feb 02 - 10:35 PM
Mary in Kentucky 18 Feb 02 - 10:57 PM
Mary in Kentucky 18 Feb 02 - 10:59 PM
Amergin 18 Feb 02 - 11:16 PM
Mary in Kentucky 18 Feb 02 - 11:16 PM
technission 18 Feb 02 - 11:36 PM
DougR 18 Feb 02 - 11:43 PM
GUEST,Jazzy Jeff 19 Feb 02 - 01:16 AM
Amergin 19 Feb 02 - 01:17 AM
HuwG 19 Feb 02 - 04:11 AM
Hrothgar 19 Feb 02 - 05:47 AM
GUEST,MacCann't 19 Feb 02 - 07:58 AM
Mary in Kentucky 19 Feb 02 - 08:30 AM
Bat Goddess 19 Feb 02 - 08:44 AM
M.Ted 19 Feb 02 - 10:43 AM
Mary in Kentucky 19 Feb 02 - 11:33 AM
GUEST,greg stephens 19 Feb 02 - 12:08 PM
GUEST,greg stephens 19 Feb 02 - 12:27 PM
GUEST,greg stephens 19 Feb 02 - 12:29 PM
Little Hawk 19 Feb 02 - 04:35 PM
technission 20 Feb 02 - 02:27 AM
Mary in Kentucky 20 Feb 02 - 08:30 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Feb 02 - 08:13 PM
Irish sergeant 23 Feb 02 - 10:21 PM
Art Thieme 24 Feb 02 - 12:24 AM
Mark Cohen 24 Feb 02 - 02:33 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Feb 02 - 03:33 PM
GUEST,jaze 24 Feb 02 - 09:04 PM
Art Thieme 24 Feb 02 - 09:09 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 24 Feb 02 - 09:48 PM
Little Hawk 25 Feb 02 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,Confused 12 Jan 03 - 06:26 AM
Richie 12 Jan 03 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,Nigel in Cornwall 20 Oct 04 - 01:17 PM
jaze 20 Oct 04 - 08:56 PM
GUEST,Miles Keough XIII 04 Nov 06 - 11:06 PM
Lonesome EJ 13 Jun 11 - 04:33 PM
Lonesome EJ 13 Jun 11 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Doug Saum 14 Jun 11 - 01:35 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN
From: katlaughing
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 04:48 PM

I like the way Baez did it. Whether she sings it that way or not, the lyrics attributed to her singing it, at Lyrics World, are the same as the ones you say are the original, LH. Of course we don't know how meticulous the transcriber was and there is one mistake, that I can see. This one says "I don't care if MY money's no good" and it should "THEIR." Now I will have to go dick out my Diamonds and rust tape and listen...carefully:-)

THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN
Joan Baez
Written by J. Robbie Robertson

Virgil Caine is the name, and I served on the Danville train
'Til Stoneman's cavalry came and tore up the tracks again.
In the winter of sixty-five, we were hungry, just barely alive.
By May the tenth, Richmond had fell;
It's a time I remember oh, so well...

Night they drove old Dixie down
And all the bells were ringin',
The night they drove old Dixie down
And all the people were singin'! They went...
La-la-la-la-la-la,
La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la.

Back with my wife in Tennessee, when one day she called to me,
"Virgil, quick, come see: there goes the Robert E. Lee!"
Now, I don't mind choppin' wood, and I don't care if my money's no good.
Just take what you need and leave the rest
But they should never have taken the very best.

Chorus

Like my father before me, I will work the land.
And, like my brother before me, I took a rebel stand.
He was just 18, proud and brave, when a Yankee laid him in his grave.
I swear by the mud below my feet,
You can't raise a Caine back up when he's in defeat.

Chorus


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN
From: GUEST,Tracey Dragonsfriend
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 04:57 PM

Well, according to The Band's own website, here are the lyrics, from the horse's mouth - J. Robbie Robertson:

THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN
By J. R. Robertson. Album: The Band
© 1970 Canaan Music, Inc.

Virgil Caine is the name,
And I served on the Danville train,
'Til Stoneman's cavalry came
And tore up the tracks again.
In the winter of '65,
We were hungry, just barely alive.
By May the tenth, Richmond had fell,
It's a time I remember, oh so well,

(Chorus)
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,
And all the bells were ringing,
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,
And all the people were singin'.
They went La, La, La, La, La, La,
La, La, La, La, La, La, La, La, La

Back with my wife in Tennessee,
When one day she called to me,
"Hey Virgil, quick, come and see,
There goes Robert E. Lee!"
Now I don't mind choppin' wood,
And I don't care if the money's no good.
Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest,
But they should never have taken the very best.

(Chorus)

Like my father before me,
I will work the land,
Like my brother above me,
Who took a rebel stand.
He was just eighteen, proud and brave,
But a Yankee laid him in his grave,
I swear by the mud below my feet,
You can't raise a Caine back up when he's in defeat.

(Chorus and fade)

There's also a long discussion on the meaning of the words on that website too...


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Subject: RE: the night they drove ol dixie down
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Aug 01 - 04:09 PM

Well as to Stoneman return to combat, during the Civil War, prisoners were exchanged. Grabt put a stop to that to increase the drain on Confederate manpower. Now as an interesting side note, the Danville train was the route to the city of Danville--no-brainer--from Richmond. With the fall of the capital in Richmond, Jeff Davis and the CSA government fled to the city of Danville, Va., on that train with CSA treasury. Stoneman's cavalry on a raid missed them by the skin of their teeth, but "tore up the tracks." Very interesting how Robertson is so historically accurate, but so way off on the Lee bit. But like most folk tales and stories, there is always a gain of truth. Maybe the mistakes are a way of making it an authentic "old but new" song. His mistakes are to create the distortions of time. However I do remember reading a story of Lee going to a resort and vacationing after the war--I think it was the Greenbriar in W.Va.--but not sure. Maybe that is the basis. Kudos to RR on his historical knowledge either way.


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Subject: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 09:22 AM

I've listened to Joan Baez and the BAnd sing this song a gazillion times and I still can't quite figure out what is happening in the song. If anyone can give me a plot summary, verse at a time, I'd appreciate it. I've talked this over with friends, with the help of a brew or 2, and it still is unclear to me. thanks


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Spartacus
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 09:36 AM

as near as i can tell:

Verse 1 In the first verse he works on a train, until the union army (stonewall jackson) comes and destroys the tracks to keep supplies flowing to rebel armies during the civil war. He lost his job and hes hungry, then the union army takes richmond, VA.

Verse 2 He's with his wife and he sees Robert e lee go by. He gets a job chopping wood, claiming its not beneath him. Then he laments that they shouldnt have taken dixie down (taking the very best)

verse 3 Like his father the farmer and his dead brother the soldier in the rebel army, and died in battle with the union, hell die before he admits defeat.

I think that pretty much does it....


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 09:51 AM

I always felt that this song was more myth, feelings...you put your own meaning to the words because they are a bit vague and have double meanings..."can't raise a Cain back up" (the family name, Cain...the dead brother..."raise Cain"....wheat in the fields knocked down...Dixie knocked down...) (then then whole image of "train") Who was it, Sandburg?, said don't try to put too much meaning to words.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 09:54 AM

Not Sandburg...Robert Frost.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Spartacus
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 09:57 AM

Im sure that some of the phrases contain have double meanings, but the "stonemans calvary", "Robert E. Lee" and "Rebel stand" references make it difficult not to put meaning to the words....


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: GUEST,zac
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 10:45 AM

Stonewall Jackson was not in the union army---


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Spartacus
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 10:48 AM

good point. It was my best guess....anyway....


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 11:28 AM

But it's fun to guess at possible meanings. Even though we are limited in our understanding by our own knowlege, when we pool facts, knowledge and understandings with other people, a song or story can take on so much more meaning. I've often wondered if an author or songwriter really has all the answers to the meaning of their work or if they're surprised at some of the analysis. Then I guess it's a talent to write something that can be open to many interpretations.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Gypsy
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 11:33 AM

Seems pretty straightforward to me, i go with the explanation that Spartacus gives. Good song


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Spartacus
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 11:37 AM

It's definitely a talent. I immediately think of Bob Dylan. I knew a girl who was convinced that "The Mighty Quinn" was all about drugs. I read an interview with Dylan, and he says it was just a folk song. "Watchtower", "Stuck Inside of Mobile" and "Visions of Johanna" are all open to a great deal of interpretation as well.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 11:39 AM

Lots of info and analysis here, including General Stoneman and THE Robert E. Lee (and whether or not Joan sang the word "the").


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: HuwG
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 12:21 PM

I think that there was a Cavalry commander in the Union Army named William ?? Stoneman, who led a raid into Mississippi and Louisiana about the same time that Sherman was laying waste to Georgia, and with the same intentions.

ISTR reading this in "Never call retreat", by Bruce Catton. I must admit that I always heard this line as "Stonewall" before that, which was puzzling to say the least.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: SDShad
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 12:26 PM

"Stoneman" is how it's originally written by Robbie Robertson. "Stonewall" is how Joan Baez mistakenly sang it. Go figure.

Chris


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: SDShad
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 12:29 PM

There's a very good article at http://theband.hiof.no/articles/dixie_viney.html that gets into these issues. It's at a very good and compendious website about The Band, if you're at all a fan.

Chris


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Kim C
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 05:54 PM

More on George Stoneman


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 06:19 PM

I always assumed that it was a lament to the dying Confederacy. As such it's pretty straight forward. Neil


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: technission
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 10:35 PM

I always assumed your "Cain" was actually "cane", and referred to sugar cane, a major crop and the primary source of sugar besides beets. Sugar Land, Texas is just outside Houston and is the home of Imperial Sugar Co.; they process theirs from cane. Today there are miles and miles of sugar cane growing in Texas, especially in the coastal lowlands along Hwy 77 between Victoria and Corpus Christie; probably entire counties in this sparsely populated region are little more than sugar cane. I don't know the growing range of sugar cane but I feel certain it was a major cash crop for other southern states as well, and quite likely fields and plantation homes would be set afire by union soldiers; thus "cane in defeat" or "cane" could simply be an allusion to the growers or the general population. Someone interested in etymology might apply themselves to see if "cane in defeat" was an established expression of the period, perhaps referring to crops wilted by drought? Cane is somewhat similar to a stocky bamboo in appearance and is a segmented tubular stalk with the sucrose-saturated pithy interior being what is pulped and processed. Once a stalk like that lost strength from malnutrition and wilted or was felled by wind, I doubt any amount of rain or TLC would "raise it back up" again.

And that's about all the explanation I can stomach.(pun intended) I don't much like the song; I've never liked civil war history nor appreciated the way some southern folks cling to the pre-war era as one of glory. Slavery may have been accepted then (even by "northerners" the like of Jefferson and Washington) and many slaves may have been members of defeated tribes, sold by the victors to Europeans and other slave traders (as opposed to being impressed by raiding anglos), but slavery is still a blot on America's heritage IMO. I abhor the confederate-flag wavers and declare them bubbas and thinly-disguised bigots,keeping their prejudice alive in the name of "heritage" or "southern pride."

OK, end of rant. I grew up as a Texas Jewboy in a small town south of Houston, somewhat provincial in its nature. I had ample opportunity to see and hear prejudices freely expressed, even among middle-class kids who knew better. I'm old enough to remember "colored" drinking fountains and separate "colored" waiting areas at Trailways bus stations. It was ugly then and it's distressing to see racial prejudices still in full bloom throughout this country. I really will stop now, this should be in a different thread entirely.

So sing those songs of protest, loud and clear. Carry the torches of freedom with vigor, and may their flames be fanned with the winds of change. The song in question, as a lament for southern losses, is a valid expression of the era, and I realize there are many ballads, usually enjoyable to hear, that immortalize crimes of various sorts. I just don't like the idea that this song might raise sympathy for a cause that was not entirely, if at all, just.

Oh well, if there were only happy shallow songs it would be a dull world. Start flinging overripe fruits and acidic invective if I'm being insensitive to contrary opinions, or just reading too much into this one that's not "really" there to start with.

hasta la vista, paz al mundo michael in a dark mood


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 10:57 PM

technission, by all means read my link above (same as SDShad's). This song was written by a Candadian! It explains more of his love for the lyricism of the South. Also, it says that Joan sang "too much cavalry" and not Stonewall's Cavalry. Also, Robert E. Lee was never in Tennessee after the war.

RE: your interpretation of Cane...I always thought the words were "Cane in the field" not "in defeat." (I heard them wrong obviously.)

There is much more analysis of the words used in this song...a strange mixture of specific fact (some wrong or just very confusing as in May 10th) and strong sentiment (some general to the War and some specific to Tennessee). The result is an "old sounding" song.

Also...south of Houston, me too! (There's not much there, LOL)


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 10:59 PM

Canadian...sorry Rick...


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Amergin
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 11:16 PM

Welll....I like Candadian better....


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 11:16 PM

I mispoke again...according to the link above, Joan sang "so much cavalry"...


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: technission
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 11:36 PM

Wow, there's a lot of scholarly documentation to absorb there, I could only give it a cursory look now. I have a feeling it may change my opinion of this song, but I'll stand by most of my previous rant. I admire many achievements of "the south" and certainly a lot of blues music. I love the "southern" accent in the speech of many people from Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. I just don't admire the divisive elements and I fear some of the folks declaring "the south shall rise again" were not concerned so much with industry or productivity as they were with a lifestyle that included oppressed peoples. But I'll try not to be closed-minded myself!!

Thanks for the insights, and Mary in Kentucky you must PM me if you ever lived in Lake Jackson! Or for that matter, Clute, Angleton, Danbury, Jones Creek, Brazoria, Alvin, Manvel, Friendswood, Pearland, Rosharon, Bonnie, Sandy Point, Juliff, Arcola, Fresno, Almeda, Richmond, Rosenberg, Sealy, Webster, Santa Fe, Hitchcock, Dickinson, Texas City, La Porte, Bacliff, Kemah, Freeport, Surfside ... who have I left out oh.yeah - Galveston!

8>)# michael


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: DougR
Date: 18 Feb 02 - 11:43 PM

So? Did you learn anything Guest?

DougR


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: GUEST,Jazzy Jeff
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 01:16 AM

Joan Baez is a fraud.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Amergin
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 01:17 AM

maybe so...but she is a lovely fraud....


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: HuwG
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 04:11 AM

Oops ! Just re-read Bruce Catton. Stoneman's raid was in the Virginia / Tennessee / Carolina border area. That in Mississippi / Louisiana about the same time was by Wilson (from "Pap" Thomas's army).


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Hrothgar
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 05:47 AM

I think I could just about live with myself being a fraud if I could sing like Baez - and I would be a fraud if I sang like that, 'cause I'm male!


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: GUEST,MacCann't
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 07:58 AM

The American civil war wasn't just about slavery, it was foremost about State power versus Federal power. I think it is important to keep the feeling alive, as an Englishman, hoping that one day Britain will be able to throw off the European Union. There are a lot of lessons in the A.C.W.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 08:30 AM

technission, you hit all around me! I used to have relatives in Texas City and La Porte and visited there (as well as Galveston) often.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 08:44 AM

The Civil War may have been about State's Rights opposed to Federal Rights, but the primary right that southern states demanded was to keep slavery legal to uphold their agricultural economic system and to count slaves (who, of course, could not vote) for representation in the federal government.

Linn


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 10:43 AM

Thanks for posting the link Mary--I learned a lot, like for instance that Karl Marx agressively supported the North! I grew up in a Rust Belt town, full of displaced Southerners and heard all these sentiments expressed by the old timers, as well as the bitterness, which was shared by young and old alike. Blacks that had come from the South were very clear about the fact that, in many ways, the North was more cruel in it's racism than the South, and that segregation was much more extreme--


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 11:33 AM

Yes, I learned about General Stoneman from the link. I think a lot of the bitterness comes from hearing family stories about the atrocities of war as it touched the family personally. I had always heard about Sherman and his "March to the Sea", but was unaware of Stoneman's actions.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 12:08 PM

ok all that chat is what the song s literally about. now,if you wnt my opinion about what the song is reeeeeeeally about.... i think robbie robertson( canadian) was deeply jealous at a subconscious( and occasionally conscious ) level, of levon helm, who was agood old southern boy (and no-one else in the band was). and levon could sing in tune. wheras robbie r couldnt. and robbie like everyone else then dearly worshipped from afar at the altar ofsouther-ness (blues pickin,dancing, moon shine-likker, squirrel rifles blah blah...everything levon was and he wasnt); but he didnt admire the slavery stuff one bit. and i think the song is a wonderful subconscious ramble about what he feels about levon helm. thats my theory. i doubt if he thought it was about levon helm, but as someone had pointed outin this thread, songwriters dont necessarily know what they are writing about.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 12:27 PM

ok thats a grand run around what the song is literally about..but do you want to hear my theory abot what the song is reeeeeally about? weeeeeelll here goes. robbie robertson(Canadian) was deeply jealous of levon helm, who coud not only sing in tune (robbie couldnt) but was a good old southern boy. and robbie like everyone else around then deeply worshipped at the altar of southern-ness(blues singers, guitar pickers, moonshine likker,back porches squirrel rifles blah blah blah)...though he had no time for the slavery stuff. so that's the song, robbie getting out what hethinks about the south/levon helm. maybe he didnt consciously write it about him, but as someone has already pointed out in this thread, songwriters dont necessarily know what they are writing about. levon helm, incidentally, has made it abundantly clear since that he thought robbie r was a pillock . ive no idea if robbie has ever publicly said what he thinks of levon.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 12:29 PM

interesting, thought id lost my letter so i wrote it again, and now theyve both appeared. i prfer the first version, what do you think?


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 04:35 PM

Yeah, it was Stoneman's cavalry, all right. Baez sang "so much cavalry" and made a couple of other small errors in the lyrics...which is odd. She is usually so meticulous. As for her being a "fraud", ha! I laugh. I've seldom heard of anyone less fraudulent than Joan Baez, or more willing to take responsibility, or more dedicated to her ideals.

Along the same lines, I knew a kid back in high school (about 1966) who was into the Stones and the Beatles bigtime. He expressed the opinion that Bob Dylan was "a phony"...probably because he could not comprehend his songs at all. Dylan is now a music legend, who had a big influence on both the Stones and the Beatles, and formed musical friendships with them...and that kid has amounted to just about nothing in life. So there ya go. Talk's cheap when it comes from the cheap seats.

Now then, to associate Stonewall Jackson with the Union Army is downright sacrilegious!!! :-) He detested them, and made life hell for them till his untimely demise at the hands of jumpy Confederate pickets (who shot him by mistake at night...such things sometimes happened).

technission - There are any number of other reasons to look back to the prewar South as an era of glory...that have nothing whatever to do with slavery. Robert E. Lee was himself strongly opposed to slavery, but when Virginia seceded he felt that his loyalty to his home state overrode his allegiance to the Union. The majority of Southerners felt as he did about that, regardless of how they felt about slavery. They fought for their home territory and for sovereignty. Also, a great many of the Union citizenry had as low a regard for blacks as did the Southerners...but not as big an economic need for them.

It does not speak very well for America as a whole that they were far behind much of Europe in abandoning slavery. The British Empire abolished it in 1834, and the British Navy (being at peace at the time) was given much work to do suppressing the illegal (from Britain's point of view) slave trade in Africa and elsewhere. They captured and sank hundreds of slave ships on the open sea with efficiency and dedication, while slavery was "business as usual" in the USA.

I suspect that had slave plantations been a key factor in the northern economy, the last thing you would have seen raised as an issue between North and South would have been slavery, but there would still have probably been a Southern secession, leading to civil war...for powerful economic and political reasons.

The South was neither populous enough nor industrialized sufficiently to compete with the North economically...or politically. They became more and more marginalized and saw secession as the only way out to preserve their sovereignty and freedom of action.

This does not in any way deny the prejudices you observed while growing up, nor does it excuse them.

But the Old South did have a grace and beauty all its own, according to what I have read, and that was not necessarily tied to slavery. They were a more pastoral society, more traditional, more courtly, and brother they had style! So did their army. Always outnumbered, always outgunned, they had elan and esprit de corps to make up for it, and they had the most flamboyant and memorable commanders too.

They fought a war they had almost no chance of winning, fought magnificently, and went down to catastrophic defeat. How could they not feel nostalgic about it afterward?

The song "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" captures that nostalgia very well, along with the sense of regret and loss.

But if I'd grown up in your town, and seen what you did, it would probably bug me too...

I grew up in Canada, where slavery was ended long before the civil war...where the more prosaic issues of unequal economic and political clout in different regions have almost caused this country to fragment on a number of occasions...as America did in the 1860's.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: technission
Date: 20 Feb 02 - 02:27 AM

Well,

Thanks Little Hawk, Mary Kentucky and assorted guests for pointing out some things I have overlooked for a lifetime. Since I have avoided studying the time period due to my personal biases and my own perception of the political reasons leading to the war, I have as a result also missed learning about many of the things you point out. I may have to do further research in time. As a kid I didn't take much interest in history lessons and I have found others here who agree with me that the public-school history texts were abysmally poor in style and in ability to generate or maintain interest in the subject. As I have aged I have found tremendous gaps in my historical knowledge and an increasing interest in filling some of them, but hardly enough time to satisfy it all.

Ditto from me on the achievements, beauty and grace of the south; I sure didn't mean to dismiss the parts I grew up in. I haven't moved away and don't plan on it! If the rest of you lead good and worthy lives, when you die you may go to Texas.

OK, OK get the ripe vegetables back out... 8>)# michael


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 20 Feb 02 - 08:30 AM

Michael, I read a lot of Civil War books when I was younger but lost interest as I grew older (same with political books). The one book you should read that I think you would like is "Killer Angels." It's about the battle of Gettysburg, but it profiles different soldiers, North and South, and gives a very up close and personal account of their lives. (Lee had heart trouble.) I think people from other parts of the world reading this forum know very little of the personal aspects of that war. It truly was brother against brother and friend against friend. Some of the generals went to West Point together and later were foes on the battlefield.

Mary (once a Texan, always a Texan) (my parents also heard the TC explosion)


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 08:13 PM

Irish sergeant called it a lament for the dying confederacy. Except at the same time the chorus has a touch of rejoicing at the end of thd war, and an echo of the Day of Jubilee.

I read it as a lament for the war, and the destruction brought by the war. The words as written by Robertson bear close reading. It's a subtle bit of writing , avoids coming down on any side, just fed upo with the war. It's about being stuck in the middle, and being messed around by both sides, which is what happens.

The Union cavalry destroys the railway, the Confederate Army commandeers the best from the land, and recruits the best young men as well. More than it is right to take.

Regardless of how the war ends, the singer will keep working the land like his father did before him, and like his brother did before he went off and got himself killed in the war. And like the flattened sugar cane, its namesake, Virgil Cane's brother, isn't going to come back to life. (And the very name Cane carries a reminder of Cain and Abel and brother killing brother in a Civil War.)

Whether intentional or noit (and it probably was, written in 1969), more than anything it's coloured by Vietnam, - the civil war out there and the civil war back home in America.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 10:21 PM

Kevin; I have to modify my opinion. Just a wee bit. You convinced me. Both rejoice at the end of the war and Jubilee are present but I still get the sense of lament for the horrors the war has wrought and I get the sense part of that is for the devastated South. (A rather emotional take that may be erroneous. Robbie Roberson, If you're outy there would you clarify it for us?) technission;(Michael) I understand your feelings as well as I can being a gentile born and basically raised in Upstate New York can. The Civil War does bear research though.Among some of the things that you might not know about the Civil War is the fact that Germans who supported the anti-slavery movement in Texas were massacred at the start of the Civil War. Also, The best Secretary of War the Confederacy had was Judah Benjiman. certainly racial prejudice played a part in the conflict. Of that, no one can dispute. It is for that very reason i say that we must know about such wars and learn the lessons they teach us very carefully and heed them.Kindest regards,Shalom, Neil


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 12:24 AM

A PARODY:

Richard Nixon's the name and I won every damn campaign,
Stonewalled Congress's game and tore up the tapes again,
In the summer of '74,
They were angry and demanding more,
By August 8th I had to tell,
Because a tape can remember all too well.

On the night that they drove old Dickie down,
All the people were cheering,
On the night that they drove old Dickie down,
Dan Rather was jeering,
He went, "Na- na-na-na-na-na
Na-na-na-na-na-na-nana-na-na-na,
Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 02:33 PM

Little Hawk...I do hope that the British got everyone safely off all those slave ships before they sank them. Otherwise it kind of misses the point, don't you think? :-)

Interesting thread...one of the Mudcat gems, I'd say.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 03:33 PM

Thread drift - but it wasn't quite "business as usual" for American slave traders while the Royal Navy was harrying the slave trade.

At least in theory, the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed by the United States from 1808, and in 1820 it was defined as piracy, carrying the death penalty. And between 1820 and the Civil War there was a small American African Slave Trade Patrol.

I agree with Irish sergeant about Robertson's song being a lament for the devastated South. But not necessarily for the Confederacy. I was interested to note that while people seem to sing "Like my brother before me I took a rebel stand" what Robertson actually seems to have written is "(I will work the land...)like my brother below me, who took a rebel stand" (below meaning maybe just younger brother, maybe brother in the grave). And that carries a very different meaning.

It's not "the South will rise again", or "I'm a good old rebel" - it's "a plague on both your houses - look what your damn war has done to this country." Very 1969.

Classic stuff Art. Two verses aren't enough.There have to be more.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: GUEST,jaze
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 09:04 PM

Art, I love that parody, and I'm sure Joan would too considering Nixon was one of her favorite people LOL. Is there more to it?


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 09:09 PM

jaze,

not that I know of. I'd just sing that much and the point was made.

Art


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 09:48 PM

The lyrics and chords of J. R. Robertson's song are also on the website pointed out by S. D. Shad on 18Feb02 (Robertson and The Band): Dixie
This clickie goes directly to the lyrics/chords; the connection was not clear to me, so I have put the direct link.
They spelled the name "Caine," but say that's not important. This may have been posted before on another of the threads mentioning this song. Some of the references in the song are indirect and cryptic, but seem clear enough when the song is seen in print.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Feb 02 - 12:13 PM

Mark - Yeah, I thought someone would catch that thing I typed about the British "sinking" the slave ships. It was a bit misleading, actually...careless typing on my part. Their intention was to capture those ships, release the slaves and arrest the crews. This led to some lengthy chases and some bitter battles, as the slavers were usually well armed and frequently chose to fight. In the course of those battles some of the slave ships did burn or sink, but that was not the objective the British had in mind.

No one ever wanted to sink a ship in those days, if they could possibly capture it...because a captured ship yielded prize money to the captain and crew who took it...plus in this case they were also trying to rescue the slaves.

The slaves were in any case in considerable danger. It wasn't unusual to find a good many of them dead from unbelievable overcrowding on the filthy and stifling lower decks, and in some cases the slavers hastily dumped them overboard, in heavy chains, to destroy the incriminating evidence of their activities before they were boarded by the British.

In other cases, the slavers presented phony documents, purporting to prove that the slaves were hired labourers, paying passengers, or some other spurious notion of that sort...people's gall is truly amazing under such circumstances.

McGrath - Good points. I guess then that the main difference was that slavery was still legal within the borders of the southern USA after 1834, while in the British Empire it was not. So it was "business as usual" in Dixie, but not on the ocean waves.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: GUEST,Confused
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 06:26 AM

After all that explaining I still don't know what or who is Ol'Dixie.
Does anyone know?


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Richie
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 11:48 AM

Guest,

Without getting into a detailed or symbolic analysis I'd say Ol'Dixie is just a reference to the people of the 'Old South' as defined by Mason Dixon line.

The line, "The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down," refers to the Northern Civil War troops driving the Southern troops down. It's written from a Southern perspective of the Civil War.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: GUEST,Nigel in Cornwall
Date: 20 Oct 04 - 01:17 PM

Does anyone know the guitar chords


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: jaze
Date: 20 Oct 04 - 08:56 PM

I read somewhere an interview with the Band where they said they absolutely hated Joan Baez's version of this song. Which is sad in a way because her version is what led me to theirs. I like them both. I think this was a big song for Joan Baez--probably her most commercial, besides Diamonds And Rust.Those two songs are what most people think of as Joan Baez because they got the most radio play.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: GUEST,Miles Keough XIII
Date: 04 Nov 06 - 11:06 PM

Joan Baez sings, "Stonewall's cavalry" on the cover version that was released as a single. In a later cover version (possibly a live concert recording) she sings, "so much cavalry." I suspect that someone corrected her, or she forgot the lyrics...

Union Major General George Stoneman, West Point class of 1846, commanded the Cavalry Corps in the Army of the Potomac in 1863. Before that, the north did not deploy large cavalry units (brigade & divsion size) to protect their armies' flanks and to perform reconnaissance.

Stoneman later commanded the Cavalry Corps in the Army of the Ohio. The song refers to that latter command in early 1865 -- during which Stoneman's cavalrymen wreaked havoc behind the Confederate lines as several Union armies closed-in on Lee's army.

Confederate General Thomas J "Stonewall" Jackson was mortally wounded in May 1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville, so he was not alive when "they drove ol' Dixie down." Jackson commanded the II Corp of the Army of Northern Virginia (Robert E. Lee's army). Oddly enough, Jackson had been George Stoneman's roommate at West Point.

Decades after the war, Stoneman was elected governor of California. He authorized the construction of a hotel in Yosemite Valley, the Stoneman House. The original hotel burned down in the 19th century, but its namesake stands in the shadow of Glacier Point.

Maybe we should record a new version and sing, "Schwarzenegger's cavalry" or "Arnold's cavalry,"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Stoneman


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 04:33 PM

Stoneman's cavalry was not active in the Richmond area when the surrender took place. Stoneman led a raiding party that attempted to disrupt Confederate rail lines and cause general panic in the area as Hooker launched his Chancellorsville campaign in 1862. Both Stoneman's raid and Hooker's invasion across the Rappahanock ended unsuccessfully.
The Union Cavalry that was active around Richmond and Danville in 65 would have been Sheridan's command, who fought Stuart to a draw in 1864 at Brandy Station and won a victory at Yellow Tavern where Stuart was slain. As Lee withdrew to a defensive position around Richmond, Sheridan's cavalry busied themselves with attacks up and down the rail line between Danville and Richmond.
So Robbie wasn't far off, and the small inaccuracy is of way more interest to a Civil war buff than your average listener.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 04:37 PM

oops. Brandy Station took place in 1863, Yellow Tavern in 64.


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Subject: RE: Night They Drove Ol' Dixie..help
From: GUEST,Doug Saum
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 01:35 PM

Technission: Northerners like "Jefferson and Washington"?! Both were from Virginia. R J Robertson is Canadian, but the man who sang lead on the tune (Levon Helm) was southern.


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