The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Lyrics: Robbie Robertson
Music: Robbie Robertson

Played by Jerry Garcia with most of his solo bands from the 1970s to the 1990s. There is one account of it being played by the Grateful Dead:

"My favorite Dead show was the New Monk in Berkeley. The show had been advertised as a Jerry Garcia Band show but the Dead showed-up instead and they did all covers. This was the last time I saw Pigpen, he did not look good at all. This is my favorite show because 1) I can remember some of it and 2) it was totally unique for them. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Johnny B. Goode are the two great tunes I remember them doing."
There is a fuller account of the evidence here, but it doesn't seem strong enough for me to have added the song to the list of covers played by the Grateful Dead.
Virgil Caine is the name and I served on the Danville train
'Til Stoneman's cavalry came and tore up the tracks again
In the winter of sixty-five
We were hungry just barely alive
By May tenth, Richmond had fell
It was a time I remember oh so well

The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing, they went
La la la la la la, la la la la la la la la, la

Like my father before me I will work the land (note 1)
And like my brother above me who took a rebel stand
He was just eighteen, proud and brave
When a Yankee laid him in his grave
I swear by the mud below my feet (note 2)
You can't raise a Cain back up when he's in defeat


Back with my wife in Tennessee when one day she called to me (note 3)
Virgil, quick come see, there goes Robert E Lee
Now I don't mind choppin' wood
And I don't care if the money's no good
You take what you need and you keep the rest
But they should never have taken the very best

(1) Jerry sings "Like my father before me I'm a peaceful man"
(2) Jerry sings "I swear by the blood that runs on my feet" on 9 November 1991 (and perhaps on other occasions). (Thanks to Lucius Kuert for pointing this out)
(2) in the recording on "Fire Up +" Jerry sings only this verse plus several repeats of the chorus

Jerry Garcia Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     21 May 1971 Garcia Live Volume 15 Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders
      1972 Heavy Turbulence Merl Saunders/Jerry Garcia (note 3)
     23 Jan 1973 Garcia Live Volume 12 Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders
      5 Jul 1973 Garcia Live Volume 6 Garcia/Saunders
     11 Aug 1974 Garcia Live Volume 9 Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders
      1 Sep 1974 Pure Jerry 4: Keystone, Berkeley Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders Band
     14 Dec 1974 Garcia Live Volume 3 Legion Of Mary
     15 Dec 1974 Garcia Live Volume 3 Legion Of Mary
      1 Mar 1975 Jerry Garcia Collection, Volume 1 Legion Of Mary
     24 Jul 1977 Best Of Jerry Garcia Jerry Garcia Band
     29 Jul 1977 Pure Jerry 1: Theater 1839 Jerry Garcia Band
     22 Mar 1978 Garcia Live Volume 4 Jerry Garcia Band
     21 Oct 1987 Pure Jerry 3: Lunt-Fontanne: Best Of The Rest Jerry Garcia Band
      2 Sep 1989 Pure Jerry 5: Merriweather Post Pavilion Jerry Garcia Band
     16 Sep 1989 Garcia Live Volume 13 Jerry Garcia Band
      9 Aug 1990 Jerry Garcia Band Jerry Garcia Band
      9 Nov 1991 Pure Jerry 7: Hampton Coliseum Jerry Garcia Band
     15 Nov 1991 Garcia Live Volume 16 Jerry Garcia Band
     23 Nov 1991 Garcia Live Volume 8 Jerry Garcia Band
     31 Oct 1992 Garcia Live Volume 19 Jerry Garcia Band
(3) subsequently re-released on Fire Up Plus

Further Information
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For online chords and TAB see
For sheet music, see:
          Jerry Garcia Songbook (vocal line and chords)


Home | Find words/phrases| Find Song lyrics| Dead originals| Dead covers|