The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down – Joan Baez – 1971

Joan Baez - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down - 1971 Single CoverRespected as much for her civil rights work as her music, Joan Baez has been around forever… almost.  In 2009, she performed at the Newport Folk Festival, 50 years after her first appearance there.  Her biggest hit on the music charts was in 1971 with The Band’s, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

Joan Baez 1joan baez fax

  • Joan hardly needs any introduction; an American folk singer, songwriter, and activist she has been performing publically since 1958 and has released over 30 albums.
  • Joan is known as a songwriter and yet most her music features interpretations of the work of others such as: The Allman Brothers Band, The Beatles, Jackson Browne, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, The Rolling Stones, Pete Seeger, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Ryan Adams.
  • Joan’s first three albums – Joan Baez, Joan Baez, Vol. 2, and Joan Baez in Concert – all achieved gold status and remained on the US album chart for over three years.
  • Joan performed at Woodstock.
  • Joan is credited with helping launch Bob Dylan’s career.  She recorded a number of his songs, was romantically involved with him and wrote at least three songs that are specifically about him: To Bobby, Diamonds & Rust, and Winds of the Old Days.
  • In the early 80s, Joan had a relationship with Steve Jobs, cofounder of Apple Computer.
  • Joan Baez 3Joan once said, “Social justice is the true core of my life, looming larger than music.”  Joan is a long-time proponent of civil rights.  In 1956, she heard Martin Luther King, Jr. speak about nonviolence, civil rights and social change.  She went on to participate in many of Dr King’s demonstrations.  She has also been outspoken on: the Vietnam war, opposition to the death penalty, gay and lesbian rights, environmental issues, the war in Iran, and the Occupy Wall Street movement.  She supported Barak Obama’s election to the Whitehouse.

the night they drove old dixie down fax

  • The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down was written by Robbie Robertson and released by The Band on September 22, 1969 as the B-Side to their song, Up On Cripple Creek.
  • Joan Baez 2The lyrics tell of the last days of the American Civil War and the suffering of white Southerners during those years.
  • In 1971, Joan Baez covered the song, which peaked at #3 on the US singles chart and #6 on the UK singles chart.
  • Joan did make a few changes to the words.  She altered, “Till Stoneman’s cavalry came” to “Till so much cavalry came,” “May the tenth” to “I took the train,”  “like my father before me, I will work the land,” to “like my father before me, I’m a working man,” and “the mud below my feet,” to “the blood below my feet.”
  • There was much made of these changes suggesting Joan had changed it from a soldier’s song to a labourer’s song.  Joan, however, told a Rolling Stone Magazine reporter that she learned the song by listening to the Band’s recording.  When she recorded it she’d never actually seen a printed version of the words and so sang the lyrics as she’d (mis)heard them. In her recent concerts, Joan has sung the original words.
  • The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down is Joan’s highest charting single.
  • The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down lyrics.

the night they drove old dixie down – joan baez – 1971 – video

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