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Joan Baez - "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"

Joan Baez The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Release Type: User
Audio Type: Single-track
Reductions: Yes (Authored)
Pitched Vocals: Yes
Vocals Gender: Female (3)

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Author Notes

Dixie is a classic song, written by Robbie Robertson, for the Band.  Robertson wrote many other songs for the Band.  This one took him quite a long time - the music was done but he had no idea of the theme, or lyrics.  One day, talking it over with members of the band, the idea hit him, and he penned the sad lyrics of a rebel soldier, whose brother had died in the war, who watched the destruction of much of the Confederacy, and watched the killing of "the very best".
The Band released this song in 1969, but it never became much of a hit.  Two years later, Joan Baez released her cover of the song, and that one took off, riding near the top of the charts in the US and abroad.
Baez liked the song, and decided to do a version, without ever checking with the author for the official lyrics.  That is a pretty weird oversight for a singing star like Joan Baez.  But, guessing at the lyrics by ear meant quite a few errors.  For instance, the song starts by describing the rebel hero, Virgil Caine, stationed aboard the Danville Train.  To cut off the supply lines, the Union soldiers, under the leadership of General Stoneman, destroyed the train tracks.  In the original song, Robertson wrote,
"Stoneman's cavalry came and tore up the tracks."
Baez heard, and recorded, "So much cavalry came, and tore up the tracks."
In a later verse, Virgil's wife sees the great Southern general Robert. E. Lee, and says "quick, Virgil, come see."  In Joan's verse this is THE Robert. E. Lee, likely the steamboat launched a year after the war ended. 
The Band was so annoyed at her disrespect, and destruction of the lyrics, they stopped playing the song in concert.  Eventually, Baez changed the words in her version, and sang the correct lyrics in her live concerts.
There was a request in the forums for Dixie (the Band version).  I prefer this version, and so ...


June 1, 2020


June 1, 2020

Love the original by the Band, and didn't know this cover existed. Interesting story!

June 1, 2020

Love the original by the Band, and didn't know this cover existed. Interesting story!

That's interesting, because I don't remember the original.  But I do remember this version.

June 3, 2020

Probably because I wasn't alive for either of them, but first heard the Band version on a greatest hits collection of theirs :)

June 4, 2020

awesome! real old country. fantastic. 

June 5, 2020

Thank you!!!!!