1969 SONG OF THE DAY– THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN- THE BAND

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1969 Song of the Day is- “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’- by The Band. The song was written by Robbie Robertson and sung by Levon Helm. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down was on The Band’s second album- The Band [or The Brown Album} This is probably the most famous song from that album due to the piss poor cover of the song which was a hit by Joan Baez. The go-to version is the original. What a great song. It is a first person–southerners view of the last year of the American Civil War when General George Stoneman and his cavalry were raiding Virginia. Robertson didn’t just write the song- he did his research before writing it- Levon recalled him going to the library he wanted to get the facts right. In The Bands original version Virgil Caine- is called by his wife to see General Lee passing by– in Joan Baez’s version she makes Robert E. Lee a boat. Baez’s version was a top 5 hit. There is little justice sometimes.. Levon was with me- he hated Baez’s version also. The last time Levon sang it was at The Last Waltz in 1976. Rolling Stone ranked The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down at #245 on their 500 Greatest Songs Ever list. The song was recorded at Sammy Davis Jr’s house in Los Angeles which The Band had rented -and converted the poolroom into a recording studio. Robbie Robertson’s opinion of Joan Baez version- he was happy for it because it gave his band some attention– and no doubt swelled his bank account!

 

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6 responses to “1969 SONG OF THE DAY– THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN- THE BAND

  1. For some reason I thought it was more Levon’s story than some fictionalized account based on fact. Weird how one’s perceptions are. I’m not a fan of Joan Baez, even though I have nothing against her, but she maimed the song by stealing its heart when she sang it.

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