Late Night OTB – Old Dixie Down

Levon Helm and The Band perform “The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down” from “The Last Waltz” movie.

A bonus gem from YouTube: John Denver performing the song from a 1973 episode of his television show:

Once you get past the cornpone intro, it’s a surprisingly good — if less soulful — version. There were numerous covers of this song.

Lyrics:

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Virgil Caine is my name and I drove on the Danville train
’til so much cavalry came and tore up the tracks again
In the winter of ’65, we were hungry, just barely alive
I took the train to Richmond that fell
It was a time I remember, oh, so well

The 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, “Na, na, na, na, na, na, …. ”

Back with my wife in Tennessee
And one day she said to me,
“Virgil, Quick! Come see!
There goes Robert E. Lee.”
Now I don’t mind, I’m chopping wood
And I don’t care if the money’s no good
Just take what you need and leave the rest
But they should never have taken the very best

The 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, “Na, na, na, na, na, na, ….. ”

Like my father before me, I’m a working man
And like my brother before me, I took a rebel stand
Oh, he was just 18, proud and brave
But a yankee laid him in his grave
I swear by the blood below my feet
You can’t raise a Cane back up when he’s in defeat

The 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, “Na, na, na, na, na, na, ….. ”

******************************************************************
Original Lyrics 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 ’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-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 all the people were singin’, they went
Na-na-na na-na-na, na-na-na na-na-na, na-na-na-na

Like my father before me, I will work the land
And like my brother before 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 oown and the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down and all the people were singin’, they went
Na-na-na na-na-na, 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-na-na na-na-na, na-na-na na-na-na, na-na-na-na

FILED UNDER: General, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    Oooh, I hate those lyrics … when was Lee in Tennessee? Richmond fell a MONTH before May 10.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Heh. And Robertson supposedly went to the library to do research and everything.

    Of course, he’s a far better historian than Johnny Horton ever was.