"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" as written by and Robbie Robertson....
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


Lyrics submitted by H-bomb, edited by vinegar800, RobertGary1

"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" as written by Robbie Robertson

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down song meanings
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40 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentThe Band realized that the pain that the civil war caused and was still felt in the south at the time was perfect inspiration for a song. And they are refering to George Stoneman, but he was a Union General with the cavalry corps and not the Confederacy. His major task as a commander was to destroy railroads and supply lines. "tore up the tracks again." Great song full of emotion.
    zosokingon July 12, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General CommentSherman's March to the Sea started in Georgia, then went next door to S. Carolina. As z4kmorris correctly said above, the Georgia part was primarily for military reasons--Atlanta was one of the few industrial areas in the South, and it was the main rail hub in the Deep South. The South Carolina action was punitive, as S.C. was the first to secede, and the first shots were fired by S.C.
    My great-great grandfather fought for the Union (wounded 3 times) as he was an abolitionist, and yet this song moves me so much, it almost makes me feel sorry for Southerners. And I mean no irony in that last sentence. As my Uncle Bill, a combat infantryman in WWII said, "Rich old men start wars and send poor young men off to die in them."
    Pretty much the case for almost every war.
    OldFart53on July 27, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentUmmm. No one took over singing responsibilities. The band always had three great singers. Levon Helm, Rick Danco, and Richard Manual.
    bradburyesquon June 01, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentcheck
    theband.hiof.no/articles/…
    H-bombon May 03, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentActually, it's not Stonewall. It's Stoneman, as in George Stoneman, the Confederate General.
    lmh82on July 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song came from their 2nd cd, where Levon Helm i believe took over the singing responibilites, helm being the only american in the band, and from the southern states brought a southern feel to the band forsure.
    jonosuron April 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentActually, it's not Stoneman. It's Stonewall, as in Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate General.
    NorthWriteron June 16, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOops, I was trying too hard to be a wiseass and wrote Confederate instead of Union, guess I deserve the embarassment.
    lmh82on July 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBradburyesqu, he means singing on this one song.
    FreePabloon August 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's interesting that Joan Baez's version said
    "there goes the Robert E Lee"
    ie. as in paddlesteamer.

    I'm not so sure that Robert E Lee went as far as Tennessee - he concentrated on Virginia and the nearby states.

    It's surprising that a relatively obscure union general as Stoneman was chosen as the train-track wrecker(although he later became Californian Governor) - Sherman was the one with the reputation for destruction of property.

    Great song.
    chrisb1on September 02, 2006   Link

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