THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN

Robbie Robertson

THE BAND                                                                   1969                                                                   Capitol Records

The B side of a single from the album The Band. Chart: (did not chart). Time - 3:33.
Flip Side: "Up on Cripple Creek". Released in U.S.A. September 22, 1969.

Recorded at Pool House studio, West Hollywood, California, USA, 1969.
Produced by John Simon. Engineered by John Simon , Robbie Robertson and Tony May.

Wikipedia: The song is a first-person narrative relating the economic and social distress experienced by the protagonist, a poor white Southerner, during the last year of the American Civil War, when George Stoneman was raiding southwest Virginia. Frequently appearing on lists of the best rock songs of all time, it has been cited as an early example of the genre known as roots rock.

Although Robertson is Canadian, his bandmate/lead singer Levon Helm is from Elaine, Arkansas...in the deep south. Joan Baez had a hit cover version of the song in 1971, going to #3 on the Billboard chart. The Band only had two top 40 hits in their career. They could have used this if it had been released as the A side of a single. - Larry -

Personnel

   Levon Helm - lead vocals, drums
   Robbie Robertson - acoustic guitar
   Rick Danko - bass, backing vocals
   Garth Hudson - melodica, slide trumpet
   Richard Manuel - piano, backing vocals



Robbie Robertson - 1998:Goldmine

"Levon's connection to it was, things that when I went down there, things that he turned me on to. Just kind of showing me around and stuff, and bringin' me up to speed on what was goin' on in his 'hood.' And I don't know, really, where it had come from. Usually when you write songs, you write because it's the only thing you can think of at the time. But it was something that I absorbed, and then years later it came out in a song."

Robbie Robertson - 1988:radio interview

"I liked the way people talked (in the south), I liked the way they moved. I liked being in a place that had rhythm in the air. I thought, 'No wonder they invented rock & roll here. Everything sounds like music...' I got to come into this world a cold outsider cold literally from Canada and because I didn't take it for granted, it made me write something like 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down'. These old men would say, 'Yeah, but never mind, Robbie. One of these days the South is going to rise again.' I didn't take it as a joke. I thought it was really touching that these people lived this world from the standpoint of a rocking chair."

Robbie Robertson - The Great Divide by Barney Hoskyns

"It took me about eight months in all to write that song. I only had the music for it, and I didn't know what it was about at all. I'd sit down at the piano and play these chords over and over again. And then one day the rest of it came to me. Sometimes you have to wait a song out, and I'm glad I waited for that one."

YOU TUBE LYRIC VIDEO YOU TUBE LIVE YOU TUBE JOAN BAEZ COVER STUDIO TRACK VIDEO Virgil Caine is the name, and I served on the Danville train 'Till 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 The night they drove old Dixie down, and the bells were ringing The night they drove old Dixie down, and the people were singin' they went 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 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 The night they drove old Dixie down, and the bells were ringing The night they drove old Dixie down, and the people were singin' they went La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, 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 The night they drove old Dixie down, and the bells were ringing, The night they drove old Dixie down, and all the people were singin', they went Na, la, na, la, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, The night they drove old Dixie down, and all the bells were ringing, The night they drove old Dixie down, and the people were singin', they went Na, la, na, la, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na