|"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"|
|Single by The Band|
|from the album The Band|
|A-side||"Up on Cripple Creek"|
|Released||September 22, 1969|
"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" is a song written by Robbie Robertson and originally recorded by the Canadian-American roots rock group The Band in 1969 and released on their eponymous second album. Levon Helm provided the lead vocals. 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. The song appeared at number 245 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
Joan Baez's version peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 on 2 October 1971.
The song was written by Robbie Robertson, who spent about eight months working on it.Robertson said he had the music to the song in his head and would play the chords over and over on the piano but had no idea what the song was to be about. Then the concept came to him and he researched the subject with help from the Band's drummer Levon Helm, a native of Arkansas. In his 1993 autobiography, This Wheel's on Fire , Helm wrote, "Robbie and I worked on 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' up in Woodstock. I remember taking him to the library so he could research the history and geography of the era and make General Robert E. Lee come out with all due respect."
The lyrics tell of the last days of the American Civil War, portraying the suffering of the protagonist, Virgil Caine, a poor white Southerner. Dixie is the historical nickname for the states making up the Confederate States of America.The song's opening stanza refers to one of George Stoneman's raids behind Confederate lines attacking the railroads of Danville, Virginia, at the end of the Civil War in 1865:
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" is considered one of the highlights of The Band , the group's second album, which was released in the fall of 1969.According to Rob Bowman's liner notes to the 2000 reissue of The Band, the album has been viewed as a concept album, with the songs focusing on the peoples, places and traditions associated with an older version of Americana.
The Band frequently performed the song in concert, and it is included on the group's live albums Rock of Ages (1972) and Before the Flood (1974). The song also was included in the Band's Thanksgiving Day concert in 1976 which was the subject of Martin Scorsese's documentary film The Last Waltz . The song also appears on the film's soundtrack album as well as on the group's second box set, A Musical History and their double-disk collection of hits, To Kingdom Come .
The last time the song was performed by Helm was in The Last Waltz. Helm refused to play the song afterwards. Although it has long been believed that the reason for Helm's refusal to play the song was a dispute with Robertson over songwriting credits, according to Garth Hudson the refusal was due to Helm's dislike for Joan Baez's version.
The song was number 245 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.Pitchfork Media named it the forty-second best song of the Sixties. The song is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll" and Time magazine's All-Time 100.
Critic Ralph J. Gleason (in the review in Rolling Stone (U.S. edition only) of October 1969) explains why this song has such an impact on listeners:
Nothing I have read … has brought home the overwhelming human sense of history that this song does. The only thing I can relate it to at all is The Red Badge of Courage . It's a remarkable song, the rhythmic structure, the voice of Levon and the bass line with the drum accents and then the heavy close harmony of Levon, Richard and Rick in the theme, make it seem impossible that this isn't some traditional material handed down from father to son straight from that winter of 1865 to today. It has that ring of truth and the whole aura of authenticity.
Some commentators in the 21st century have questioned whether the song's original lyrics made it an endorsement of slavery and the ideology of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. — for example, in the first verse, "where Helm sang that the fall of the Confederacy was 'a time I remember oh so well,' James declared it 'a time to bid farewell," and he reworked the final verse to state "Unlike my father before me, who I will never understand... I think it's time we laid hate in its grave." Others argue that these views are based on a misunderstanding of the song, which does not glorify slavery, the Confederacy, or Robert E. Lee, but, rather, tells the story of a poor, non-slave-holding Southerner who tries to make sense of the loss of his brother and his livelihood.In 2009, writing in The Atlantic , Ta-Nehisi Coates characterized the song as "another story about the blues of Pharaoh." In an August 2020 interview in Rolling Stone , Early James described how he had started changing the lyrics of the song to oppose the Confederate cause
|"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"|
|Single by Joan Baez|
|from the album Blessed Are...|
|B-side||"When Time Is Stolen"|
|Joan Baez singles chronology|
The most successful version of the song was the one by Joan Baez, which became a RIAA-certified Gold record on 22 October 1971.Besides its aforementioned chart action on the Hot 100, the record spent five weeks atop the easy listening chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 20 song for 1971. The version reached number six in the pop charts in the UK in October 1971.
The Baez recording had some changes in the lyrics. 's Kurt Loder that she initially learned the song by listening to the recording on the Band's album, and had never seen the printed lyrics at the time she recorded it, and thus sang the lyrics as she had (mis)heard them. In more recent years in her concerts, Baez has performed the song as originally written by Robertson.Baez later told Rolling Stone
|Australia National Top 40 ( Go-Set )||5|
|Canada RPM Top Singles||3|
|Canada RPM Adult Contemporary||1|
|New Zealand ( Listener )||4|
|UK Singles Chart||6|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||3|
|U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary||1|
|U.S. Cashbox Top 100||3|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||20|
|U.S. Cash Box||21|
Johnny Cash recorded the song on his 1975 album John R. Cash . Old-time musician Jimmy Arnold recorded the song on his album Southern Soul, which was composed of songs associated with the Southern side of the Civil War. A fairly large-scale orchestrated version of the song appears on the 1971 concept album California '99 by Jimmie Haskell, with lead vocal by Jimmy Witherspoon. Others to record versions include Don Rich, Steve Young, John Denver, the Allman Brothers Band, Derek Warfield. the Charlie Daniels Band, Big Country, the Dave Brockie Experience, Vikki Carr, Richie Havens, the Black Crowes, Earl Thomas Conley, the Jerry Garcia Band, Sophie B. Hawkins, Legion of Mary, and the Zac Brown Band have included it on live albums. In 2008, Johnny Logan covered the song on his album, Irishman in America . Glen Hansard (of the Frames and the Swell Season), accompanied by Lisa Hannigan and John Smith, performed the song in July 2012 for The A.V. Club 's A.V. Undercover: Summer Break series.
The 1972 song "Am Tag als Conny Kramer starb" ("On the Day That Conny Kramer Died"), which uses the tune of the song, was a number-one hit in West Germany for singer Juliane Werding. The lyrics are about a young man dying because of his drug addiction. In 1986, the German band Die Goldenen Zitronen made a parody version of this song with the title "Am Tag als Thomas Anders starb" ("On the Day That Thomas Anders Died").
The Band was a Canadian-American rock band formed in Toronto, Ontario, in 1967. It consisted of four Canadians and one American: Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson, and Levon Helm. The Band combined elements of Americana, folk, rock, jazz, country, and R&B, influencing subsequent musicians such as the Eagles, Elton John, the Grateful Dead, the Flaming Lips, and Wilco.
The Band is the second studio album by the Band, released on September 22, 1969. It is also known as The Brown Album. According to Rob Bowman's liner notes for the 2000 reissue, The Band has been viewed as a concept album, with the songs focusing on people, places and traditions associated with an older version of Americana. Thus, the songs on this album draw on historic themes for "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", "King Harvest " and "Jawbone".
Jaime Royal "Robbie" Robertson, OC, is a Canadian musician, songwriter, film composer, producer, actor, and author. Robertson is best known for his work as lead guitarist and songwriter for The Band, and for his career as a solo recording artist.
Mark Lavon "Levon" Helm was an American musician and actor who achieved fame as the drummer and one of the vocalists for the Band. Helm was known for his deeply soulful, country-accented voice, multi-instrumental ability, and creative drumming style, highlighted on many of the Band's recordings, such as "The Weight", "Up on Cripple Creek", and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down".
The Last Waltz was a concert by the Canadian-American rock group The Band, held on American Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The Last Waltz was advertised as The Band's "farewell concert appearance", and the concert saw The Band joined by more than a dozen special guests, including their previous employers Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan as well as Paul Butterfield, Bobby Charles, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters, Ronnie Wood, and Neil Young. The musical director for the concert was The Band's original record producer, John Simon.
To Kingdom Come: The Definitive Collection is an anthology by Canadian-American rock band the Band, released in 1989. The thirty-one tracks were mostly taken from the group's eight albums on Capitol Records. The group's better-known songs, such as "The Weight", "Up on Cripple Creek", "Chest Fever", "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", "The Shape I'm In", "Life Is a Carnival" and "It Makes No Difference", are all present. Rarities such as "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever", "Get Up Jake" and "Back to Memphis" are also present.
"The Weight" is an original song by the Canadian-American group The Band that was released as a single in 1968 and on the group's debut album Music from Big Pink. Written by Band member Robbie Robertson, the song is about a visitor's experiences in a town mentioned in the lyric's first line as Nazareth. "The Weight" has significantly influenced American popular music, having been listed as No. 41 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time published in 2004. Pitchfork Media named it the 13th best song of the Sixties, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named it one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. PBS, which broadcast performances of the song in Ramble at the Ryman (2011), Austin City Limits (2012), and Quick Hits (2012), describes it as "a masterpiece of Biblical allusions, enigmatic lines and iconic characters" and notes its enduring popularity as "an essential part of the American songbook."
From Every Stage is a double live album recorded by Joan Baez on tour in the summer of 1975. The first half of the album was acoustic, with Baez accompanying herself on her guitar, while the second half features electric backup. Baez' recording of "Blowin' in the Wind" from this album was later included in the Forrest Gump soundtrack album. The song "Natalya" was dedicated to Russian poet and human rights activist Natalya Gorbanevskaya,
Blessed Are... is a 1971 album by Joan Baez, and her last with Vanguard Records. It included her hit cover of The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", and songs by Kris Kristofferson, the Beatles, Jesse Winchester and The Rolling Stones, as well as a significant number of Baez' own compositions. Like its immediate predecessors, the album was recorded in Nashville, and had a decidedly country feel.
Ring Them Bells is a live album taken from Joan Baez' April 1995 shows at New York's The Bottom Line. In addition to her own solo set, the album featured collaborations with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mimi Farina, Dar Williams, the Indigo Girls and Mary Black. Though Baez and many of the collaborating artists were admirers of one another, this album marked the first time many of them had worked together. Baez' manager, Mark Spector, served as producer.
A Musical History is the second box set to anthologize Canadian-American rock group The Band. Released by Capitol Records on September 27, 2005, it features 111 tracks spread over five compact discs and one DVD. Roughly spanning the group's journey from 1961 to 1977, from their days behind Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan through the departure of Robbie Robertson and the first disbanding of the group. The set includes highlights from each of the group's first seven studio albums and both major live recordings and nearly forty rare or previously unreleased performances.
"I Shall Be Released" is a 1967 song written by Bob Dylan.
"Acadian Driftwood" is a song by The Band. It was the fourth track on their sixth studio album Northern Lights – Southern Cross (1975), written by member Robbie Robertson. Richard Manuel, Levon Helm and Rick Danko trade off lead vocals and harmonize on the chorus.
"Chest Fever" is a song recorded by the Band on its 1968 debut, Music from Big Pink. It is, according to Peter Viney, a historian of the group, "the Big Pink track that has appeared on most subsequent live albums and compilations", second only to "The Weight". The music for the piece was written by guitarist Robbie Robertson. Total authorship is typically credited solely to Robertson, although the lyrics, according to Levon Helm, were originally improvised by Levon Helm and Richard Manuel, telling the story of a man who becomes sick when he is spurned by the woman he loves.
"Stage Fright" is the title track of the Band's third album, Stage Fright. It features Rick Danko on lead vocals and was written by Robbie Robertson. According to author Barney Hoskyns, Robertson originally intended it to be sung by Richard Manuel but it became clear that the song was better suited to Danko's "nervous, tremulous voice."
"Rag Mama Rag" is a song by The Band which was first released on their 1969 album The Band. It was also released as a single, reaching #16 in the UK, the highest of any single by the group. The single was less successful in the US, reaching only #57 on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Daniel and the Sacred Harp" is a song written by Robbie Robertson that was first released by The Band on their 1970 album Stage Fright. It has been covered by such artists as Barrence Whitfield.
"Time to Kill" is a song written by Robbie Robertson that was first released by the Band on their 1970 album Stage Fright. It was also released as a single off the album, backed with the more famous "The Shape I'm In" and, although it failed to reach the Top 40 in the United States, it peaked at #13 in the Netherlands. It has also been featured on several Band compilation and live albums.
"The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show" is a song written by Robbie Robertson that was first released on the Band's 1970 album Stage Fright. It was also frequently performed in the group's live sets and appeared on several of their live albums. Based on Levon Helm's memories of minstrel and medicine shows in Arkansas, the song has been interpreted as an allegory on the music business. Garth Hudson received particular praise for his tenor saxophone playing on the song.
"The Unfaithful Servant" or "Unfaithful Servant" is a song written by Robbie Robertson that was first released by The Band on their 1969 album The Band. It was also released as the B-side of the group's "Rag Mama Rag" single. It has also appeared on several of the Band's live and compilation albums.