The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

The original song is called “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, but times have changed and Old Dixie is under attack again. Rebel flags? You can’t fly them. Backwoods Southern accent? Don’t plan on a high salary job. Statues, memorials, and Confederate tributes? Don’t even think about it. As the gubernatorial race is on in Georgia between a candidate who wants to blast away the Confederate carving on Stone Mountain and one who wants to preserve it, the dividing lines are clear. You either want to remember and preserve history or you want to forcibly remove it.

I want to remember our past – our shared past – in all its blood, guts, honor, and shame. I want to learn from the past. I want to use that knowledge to understand the present, and thereby create a brighter future. That is a paraphrase of a quote etched into a memorial on Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta, along the route of Martin Luther King’s historic march. The quote is attributed to W.E.B. DuBois, a black author who would today be appalled by groups like Black Lives Matter; groups who would do well to learn their history rather than attempting to alter or erase it.

What does this have to do with a folk song? Plenty. They did drive Old Dixie down and they are still stomping her into that red Georgia clay. Given these pernicious if not ridiculous attacks on Southern culture, I have rewritten the song for our times. Am I rewriting history? No. I am adding to our shared and solid foundation. Here is a link to the original song(which has been removed from YouTube several times due to allegedly offensive content; offensive because it may stir some passion for Old Dixie):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnS9M03F-fA

Below are my new lyrics, a tribute to the timeless Johnny Reb in all of us. Whether Billy Yank or Johnny Reb (every pair of boots got screwed by the suits in that war), get out your guitar and have a beautiful weekend.

Johnny Reb is my name
And I rode on that Southern train,
‘Til Sherman’s cavalry came
And tore up the tracks again.
It was the winter of ‘65
We were hungry – just barely alive.
I took the troops to Georgia; we failed.
It was a time I remember oh, so well…

The night they burned Old Dixie down
And all the bells were ringing
The night they burned Old Dixie down
And al the people were singing
They sang, No, no, no, no, no. You can’t steal our Southern soul.

Back with my wife in Tennessee and one day she said to me,
“Johnny quick come see, they’re taking down the Robert E. Lee!”
Now, I don’t mind the times; they change,
But I won’t let you erase my name.
Don’t take what you want and damn the rest,
And you should never try taking our very best.

The night they burned Old Dixie down
And all the bells were ringing
The night they burned Old Dixie down
And al the people were singing
They sang, No, no, no, no, no. You can’t steal our Southern soul.

Like my father before me,
I will work this land.
And like my brother beside me,
I’ll take a rebel stand.
He was just 18, proud and brave,
‘Til a banker laid him in his grave.
I swear by the blood below my feet,
We’ll raise that flag back up
Even in defeat.

The night they burned Old Dixie down
And all the bells were ringing
The night they burned Old Dixie down
And al the people were singing
They sang, No, no, no, no, no. You can’t steal our Southern soul.

Rachel Summers
Known as the Dropout Philosopher, Rachel Summers walked away from the Ivory Tower, spent a year in a motorcycle mechanics program, and started research for her first novel, CondAmnation, in a local Harley Davidson shop. Her novels are what some have called a journey into antinomian mysteriosophy, where socially sanctioned morality is turned on its head in order to shake out just a few drops of enlightenment.

Summers holds degrees in History, Comparative Religions, English Literature, and Philosophy but ran afoul of academia when her dissertation proposal was rejected as something that might cause a scandal or, worse yet, cause the check-signing alumni to sign fewer checks. Welcomed to stay and write if she accepted a pre-approved project, she chose to leave and vowed to cause a scandal indeed, whether with pen or sword. She is currently writing her fifth novel as well as articles for the Revolutionary Conservative and Europa Sun Magazine; thus far, the sword remains sheathed. You can buy her books at https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Summers/e/B06X3XJ5RN/