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I was listening to The Band this morning, and in particular to “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

It is a song about the suffering of people caught in the crossfire of power elites settling a feud among themselves and that, however it may turn out, will not be of any benefit to ordinary people.

When Robbie Robertson wrote the lyrics to this, he had the American Civil War in mind.  When I listen to this, it evokes for me the absolutely needless destruction and suffering inflicted on people in times of war, and my heart does break (yes, sometimes music, like poetry, will do that to me).

I offer two renditions, both of which are, to my mind, simply beautiful and deeply touching (the lyrics are posted below):

 

 

“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”

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 10th, Richmond had fell

It’s a time I remember, oh so well

The night they drove old Dixie down

And all the bells were ringing

The night they drove old Dixie down

And All the people were singing

They went, “Na, na, la, na, na, na”

Back with my wife in Tennessee

When one day she called to me

Said “Virgil, quick, come see,

There goes the Robert E. Lee!”

Now, I don’t mind chopping wood

And I don’t care if my money’s no good

You take what you need

And you leave the rest

But they should never

Have taken the very best

The night they drove old Dixie down

And all the bells were ringing

The night they drove old Dixie down

And all the people were singing

They went, “Na, na, la, na, na, na”

Like my father before me

I will work the land

And like my brother above me

Who took a rebel stand

He was just 18, 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 all the bells were ringing

The night they drove old Dixie down

And all the people were singing

They went, “Na, na, la, na, na, na”

The night they drove old Dixie down

And all the bells were ringing

The night they drove old Dixie down

And all the people were singing

They went, “Na, na, la, na, na, na”