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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  • -2
    My OpinionI'm astonished that none of these commentators (and apparently not even Joan Baez) has noted the twisted political implications of this song, particularly in the historical context when it was composed and sung. It is a nostalgic paean to "old Dixie," whose political and economic order was based on the enslavement and brutalization of millions of African Americans. It is not, as some might say, the celebration of a morally neutral "heritage." It is an elegy to the poor white advocates of the Confederacy sung at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

    Instead of testifying to the evil of enslavement and the evil that so many poor boys killed and died in its defense, this song pretends that what's sad is that the old South was forced to change.

    What's most disgusting, though, is that this 1960s nostalgia for the old South (including the sudden insertion of the Confederate flag design into state flags all over the South) is obviously a thinly-veiled metaphor and populist emblem of poor whites' wish to preserve their superiority to black people at a time when black Americans were rightly demanding human equality for people of all colors and classes. Shame on them and on the composers and singers of this song.

    I am so disappointed by the lack of critical discourse around this popular and seductively beautiful song.
    JamesMatoryon October 20, 2014   Link

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