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 eighteen, 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"


Lyrics submitted by leopanthera

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

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down song meanings
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    Song Meaning"Virgil, quick, come see, there goes Robert E. Lee!"

    Some say the above line is referring to the steamshipRobert E Lee.
    But I believe the writer may be using Lee is as metaphor, meaning
    ‘a rebel army unit’ (is advancing or passing by)

    “Now I don't mind, I'm chopping wood
    And I don't care if the money's no good”

    I believe here, he is not grumbling about the poor pay chopping
    wood. Chopping wood was a necessity in those days for heating
    and cooling. He is grumbling about the money being worthless,
    because in 1865, nearly ½ of all money in circulation was
    counterfeit, being ‘no good’. ‘No mind to other problems,
    the wood needs chopped’.

    “Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest,
    But they should never have taken the very best“

    IMO, the above lines are a clear reference to foraging . Civil
    war armies would raid nearby farms “taking what they need“,
    this was called ‘foraging’. But they rarely took only what they
    needed, they typically robbed farms of the best stock, money,
    clothing etc., sometimes leaving homesteaders destitute, with
    little or nothing to live on.
    naturebeeon September 27, 2013   Link

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