Billy Joel wrote "We Didn't Start The Fire" after a 21-year-old told him, "everyone knows that nothing happened in the '50s."
David Bowie's "Heroes" was about his producer Tony Visconti and his girlfriend, but Bowie didn't admit this until the '00s, since Visconti was married at the time.
It took John Fogerty just 20 minutes to write "Fortunate Son" for Creedence Clearwater Revival's Willy And The Poorboys album..
"Tainted Love" started as a 1964 soul song by Gloria Jones, became a huge hit when Soft Cell covered it in 1981, and was the basis for Rihanna's 2006 #1 "S.O.S. (Rescue Me)."
"Uncle John's Band" by the Grateful Dead was the first time the phrase "God Damn" appeared in a commercially-released song.
"Mr. Roboto" by Styx was written by their keyboard player, Dennis DeYoung, who used Japanese words and imagery to create an allegory about censorship.
A top New York studio musician, Ralph played guitar on many '60s hits, including "Lightnin' Strikes," "A Lover's Concerto" and "I Am A Rock."
The man who created Yacht Rock with "Sailing" wrote one of his biggest hits while on acid.
Daryl Hall's TV show is a hit, and he's been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - only one of these developments excites him.
The "Midnight At The Oasis" singer is an Old Time gal. She talks about her jug band beginnings and shares a Dylan story.
Is Owl City on a quest for another hit like "Fireflies?" Adam answers that question and explains the influences behind many others.
Bowie's "activist" days of 1964 led to Ziggy Stardust.
"You can't raise a Caine back up when he's in defeat" - means he wouldn't come back if he has to come back a beaten man ("in defeat"). He would fight and die again.
Of course, this line also casts the Civil War as a struggle between Cain and Abel, and then there's a kind of oblique duple entendre (i.e., raising Cain). But the core of this quote is this reference to Reconstruction, something which, incredibly, all critics seem to miss. The whole song, on some level, refers to the plight of the little man caught up in the late stages of the war (e.g., Stoneman's cavalry tearing up the tracks of the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad) and facing the indignities of Reconstruction (e.g., chopping wood even if the money's no good.... ironically, a sharecropper's job).
The composer’s rewriting, and the positive Rolling Stone review, is an example of how and artist's good intentions can damage the nation's historical memory.
In the composer/singer's 1968 lyrics he recounts the lived experience of a poor farmer in the South at the end of the Civil War. There is nothing racist about them--the farmer simply recounting his family's experience as General Sherman went on a criminal campaign in the South as the war was closing---indiscriminate brutality, looting, and killing of the White population as a collective punishment. There is no pro-Confederate sentiment. It just says the war ended and this is what happened to my family.
In this Rolling Stone interview, the composer says that he believed that it was a good thing that Sherman "burned Alabama to the ground" and implies that he should have included this in his1968 lyrics. So he updated them to say the Southerners got what they deserved.
In 1968 it was an anti-war song about how wars always do so much evil to everyday people.
In 2022 is a pro-war song---everyday people in evil nations get what they deserve.
The rewrite is unfortunate because it aggravates the current American political crisis. It also justifies American military aggression abroad: people who live in "evil" nations get what they deserve.
I agree with the other Aussie, Rob. I seems inconceivable that Joan Baez would record a song that glorifies the fight to defend slavery and makes the South look like the victims instead of the aggressors. gobsmacked.
At the beginning of the Civil War, there were six million white people living in the south. Out of these only 350,000 actually owned slaves. Many of these were upper middle class that would have 1 to 3 slaves as domestic servants. A very small percentage owned 20 or more slaves to maintain their large land holdings. These wealthy land owners were the ones that controlled the politics of the south and pushed to maintain their system of living against the north. The majority of the white people in the south were recent immigrants that ranged from yeoman farmers that owned a small farm which they tended themselves down to illiterate sharecroppers that tried to eek out a living to keep their family alive. These people were also the ones that shed the most blood for the south in the war. They were young, given a uniform and a gun, and on most days food. They believed they were fighting for the honor of the south, the most responsibility they ever had. So when you hear this song it’s about the struggle of man to get by after finding he’s lost everything, including his brother, when he never had much to begin with.
This song in the context of the late 60’s/early 70’s was understood by those of us in our youth during that period as an anti-war song. Rather than referencing Vietnam directly it does so indirectly via parallels with the civil war. The message being those who suffer terribly in wars generally are the common people, not those responsible for starting them.
As an anti-war song, and one which despite its reinterpretion in the modern era has nothing to do with racism, it was totally consistent with the progressive messages Joan was delivering at that time.
However, none of this mitigates the fundemental ungodly sin: the assumption of 'ownership'. Slaves were traded like commodities; family members literally 'sold down river'; corporal and capital punishment administered by the 'owners'; prohibited from socialising and not allowed education.
To gloss over this by saying 'they were happy' is unspeakably arrogant.
Of course, the North don't get a free pass in this terrible time in history. After the civil war, Union cavalry were committed to the new territories to rid the land of the native American occupants, often by extermination. It stands as an example of ethnic cleansing akin to the holocaust.
America, the land of the free and the brave.
And that great man Jefferson raped his wife's half sister. Do you think that Sally Hemmings was so in love with Jefferson that she was in a relationship with him willingly? He owned her. I suggest that you look at the other side of the equation, especially at narratives from former slaves to learn about the cruelty from slave masters and all the injustices that the slaves faced (maybe even from your grandfathers). You probably won't because if you knew the real truth, it would break your heart.
Oh and this song is terrific.
It declares the reason as '... increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the Institution of Slavery.'
The movie Cold Mountain, despite flaws, also shines a light on this period and what it was like for ordinary people
There are three references to specific Civil War events that I address:
First Reference: "...and I worked on the Danville train, till Stoneman's cavalry came and tore up the tracks again"
Virgil Caine worked on the "Danville train", which is certainly the Richmond and Danville (R&D) railroad, which ran from Danville, Virginia to Richmond, Virginia (140 miles) before, during and after the Civil War. (In the years following the Civil War, it grew to include 3300 miles of track.) Virgil's comment places him somewhere between these two cities (Danville and Richmond) in Virginia. Having solved the question of where, we address the question of when.
To ascertain the time, we can refer to U.S. General George Stoneman's cavalry raid on April 4th, 1865. The Yankee cavalry cut the R&D railroad at Jetersville, Virginia, thereby robbing Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia of the crucial supplies they awaited in Amelia. This was the only instance during the entire war that the R&D was cut, which pinpoints Virgil Caine living somewhere along the R&D line in the early days of April 1865. (NOTE 1: Virgil says they "tore up the tracks AGAIN", but there is no reference to the R&D being cut before April 1865. NOTE 2: Gen'l Stoneman led cavalry raids in 1863 and 1864 in Virginia, but neither of these raids approached the R&D line.)
Second Reference: "By May the 10th Richmond had fell..."
This reference is a bit obscure, as has been noted in the Comments. True enough, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured May 10th 1865 in Irwin County, Georgia. This event marked the fall of the Confederate national government's existence. However, technically, Richmond had fallen on Monday, April 3, the day after Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia abandoned their lines around Petersburg, Virginia, and headed west in full retreat. Union forces entered Richmond, some 45 odd miles northeast of Petersburg, at dawn on April 3, and President Abraham Lincoln walked the streets of Richmond with his son Tad on the fourth of April. These facts throw light on the verse from the song, and perhaps the verse should have read, "...by April third Richmond had fell".
Third Reference: "Virgil quick come see, there goes Robert E. Lee"
Robert E. Lee spent his entire military career as commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia, and was never in Tennessee during the entire civil war. Research shows that this verse must certainly refer to the Mississippi steamboat "Robert E. Lee", which operated mainly between Natchez, Missouri, and New Orleans. This operational route did not include that stretch of the Mississippi River which borders western Tennessee, but the "Robert E. Lee" was known to venture as far north as St. Louis when revenue fell short on the Natchez-New Orleans run. While the previous two references indicate Virgil living along the R&D line in April 1865, there is no historical time reference by which to place the "Robert E. Lee" on the western Tennessee border where Ole' Miss flows. In 1870, the "Robert E. Lee" raced the "Natchez" (another steamboat) from New Orleans to St. Louis. (The "Robert E. Lee" won the contest.) This race would have taken the Robert E. Lee along the Mississippi on the western border of Tennessee, where Virgil's wife might have seen the steamboat. Virgil tells the story of his involvement in the Civil War in the first two references, and then quips "back with my wife in Tennessee", obviously following the events described earlier in the song. The logical conclusion is that Virgil's wife saw the "Robert E. Lee" sometime between April 1865 and 1870.
Enough of history! Enjoy the song.
Very interesting! Enjoy
"Like my father before me, I will work the land,
Like my brother above me, who took a rebel stand.
He was just eighteen, 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"
First, as others have pointed out Stoneman was a Union Cavalry commander who raided into South Central Virginia (from Eastern Tennesee) in the winter of 1865 for the specific purpose of cutting the Danville rail connection to Richmond. At this time, Robert E. Lee and the remnants of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia had been under seige in front of Richmond and Petersburg since the summer of 1864 and the Danville line was one of the few remaining connections between Richmond and the rest of the Confederacy. Stoneman's raid was one of (several) final hammer blows that forced Lee to abandon Richmond in the Spring of 1865 and, in a matter of days, surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.
As for the larger question regarding the cause of the American Civil War, do not kid yourselves. THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR WAS FOUGHT OVER SLAVERY! All of the other issues raised by Southerners, back then and today, eventually point back to concerns that the more populated northern states would eventually gain the political power and the political will to force rich Southerners to give up their slaves. To be sure, the average Southerner, who was neither rich nor a slave owner, didn't fight so that a couple of rich landowners could keep their "property". This is where the issues of States' rights and freedom and inequity and the like come into play. They needed to motivate the troops somehow, and, of course, in the years after the war, when it became increasingly apparent just how wrong and horrific human slavery really was, those convenient motivational tools also became a convenient means to create the mythology of the noble "Lost Cause", etc., etc., etc. Southerners lost the war, but they won the public relations campaign that followed over the next 150 years (and counting.
"Virgil, quick, come see, there goes THE Robert E. Lee!" I think it is after the war is over and he sees the RIVERBOAT called THE Robert E Lee. Riverboats used wood to fire the steamboilers, perhaps he was struggleing to survive by selling wood to the Riverboats and he is remembering the looting that both armies did during the war.
I believe I heard this during an interviev with Martin Scorcese.
Still one of the most emotive of songs
And Diane? What do you mean most of the Yanks can't speak the truth? Have you been smoking Spanish Moss again? The reason most of the slaves stayed put is...where else would they go? They HAD no other place to go. No education. NOTHING.
Back to the song....GREAT song. Best version is on "The Last Waltz" as has been pointed out.
i think you'll find that the confederate army had the backing of all the cotton barons in the north west of england,im from liverpool and no that during your civil war my city gave much backing to the south ranging from weapons money food and we also built the css alabama and most of the crew were from liverpool,we also have what i believe to be the only confederate embassy outside the usa which is still standing
From some of the comments about the war between the north & south (Northern Agression, as I prefer), I can tell that they have no idea what they're talking about. The War was a result of much more than just slavery. I wish more people would research history.
I'd be willing to bet the slaves did.
Now as to "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down",it is and will always remain a ballad that touches one deep down in their soul,and is one of those rare songs that could have been sung a hundred years ago, or a hundred years from now.
Nor do I think this song has much to do with race, though it does foster the Lost Cause myth, which tends to ignore or grossly distort the tragedy of slavery. The perspective of this story is one of a single person, recounting what he saw at the end of the war, and lamenting what it had done to his family - thats much more universal, which is why I think this song resonates so well, its not a history of the Civil War, its just one guy, and he could be anyone, from any war.
I love this song. Levon Helm's vocals fit it so perfectly that you believe he IS Virgil Cain.
All this seems plausible, as I'll quote here from the Wikipedia article on Stoneman:
"Stoneman assumed command of the Cavalry Corps of what would be known as the Army of the Ohio. As the army fought in the Atlanta Campaign under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, Stoneman and his aide were captured by Confederate soldiers outside Macon, Georgia, becoming the highest ranking Union prisoner of war. He was a prisoner for three months.
Stoneman was exchanged relatively quickly based on the personal request of Sherman to the Confederates and he returned to duty. In December 1864, he led a raid from East Tennessee into southwestern Virginia. He led raids into Virginia and North Carolina in 1865..."
(The Wikipedia article on the Song states that it refers to the 1865 raids in this quote): "The lyrics tell of Virgil Caine watching as the Union Army General George Stoneman destroys the railroad where he makes a living, and then witnessing the fall of Richmond, Virginia. Virgil relates and mourns the loss of his brother, "He was just eighteen, proud and brave / But a Yankee laid him in his grave."
God I love the internet!
Dansville, is in Virginia, but as I recall the railroad went from there through southwest Va. and into Tennessee near Bristol. From there, I presume it went to points west.
The lines about "I don't mind 'em chopping wood, and I don't care if the money's no good" to me refers to two separate ideas: First off, when an army marched through an area, they tended to take all the wood they could- firewood, woodpiles, fences, etc. and use it for campfires. As for the "money" line, when the Rebs went through an area, their leaders- especially Lee- insisted that they pay for whatever they took from the locals. The payment would of course be in Confederate money, which was nearly worthless in the South, and less than useless elsewhere. (I seem to recall US soldiers, when they found it putting the money to a more immediate use, if you get my drift).
So to me, Virgil is shrugging his shoulders at the loss of a lot of firewood to a passing (Confederate?) army, shrugging also at the useless money he was paid in, but is properly annoyed that the soldiers took things that they couldn't have any use for- it's well known that, in the latter months of the War, northern troops would take everything from a house, including women's clothes, and destroy the stuff for no reason. So "just take what you need and leave the rest".
As far as food, another thing that was stolen in vast amounts, if they found livestock it would be taken and slaughtered for dinner. However, if they found a healthy pig and a sickly one, they'd probably take the good one and ignore the other. "But they should never have taken the very best".
All that being said, it is a great song, regardless of which side you favor. I first knew the Baez version, which was okay. It was only a few years back that I heard the original, and fell in love with it. Far, far better than the knockoff.
This concludes today's history lesson.
If Lee ever set foot in Tennessee during or after the war, I've missed it.
This has to be about the best song I listened to ever .. form first note to last
"Southerners all seem to be historians when it comes to our four years of fame but I don't remember Robert E. Lee ever being in Tennessee for Virgil to see. I guess that just proves that this wonderful songs, and one of my favorites, was written by a canadian."
I wanted to say to this person that they need to research their historical facts before posting such garbage. At one point during the war General Grant and troops were stationed in La Grange, Tennessee where confederate soldiers eventually made their way through. Therefore, General R.E.Lee WAS in Tennessee for Virgil to see. Yes, the song was written by a Canadian who researched the history of the Civil War before he wrote the song. And, yes, southerners do tend to be historians so we can correct those of you who post ignorant comments on lyrical websites. Thanks.
Hell, this band would not be what it is!
A true song that can move you to a differnt place and time, that has with stood the test of time.