Friday, October 22, 2010

The night they drove Miss Piggy down

Plain and simple, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" is one of our favorite songs of all time. The Band put it into play on their second album in 1969 and gave a stirring rendition on the splendid rockumentary The Last Waltz which will be covered in greater detail on Sunday at the Sanctuary.  (How's that for foreshadowing??!!)  It also appeared on the B side of the single "Up On Cripple Creek."

Although Canadian Robbie Robertson took the songwriting credit, "Dixie" was co-written by drummer Levon Helm, whose earthy Southern voice gave the song its chilling tone.  You want to record a historical song about the South, go to the one Southerner in the group.

Nobody will ever top the Band's version of "Dixie," but that hasn't stopped many other artists from covering it, including Johnny Cash, Richie Havens and more recently the Black Crowes.  But only one artist, Joan Baez, received a gold record for it on this day in 1971.  It had risen to No. 3 on the Billboard chart earlier in October, becoming the highest charting song of her career.

Baez was criticized for altering the lyrics (she may have learned the song by listening to the Band's record without consulting a lyric sheet), but that's a small quibble.  The historical accuracy and meaning of the original lyrics will be debated until the end of time.  It's a great song, and a great cover by Baez.

Our treat for you today is a clip of Baez singing "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" on the Muppet Show.  Who knew Beauregarde could play a mouth harp!  Go ahead and click:

(We're pretty sure this is the only Gandhi joke ever told on the Muppet Show.)


  1. The lyrics are very clear and understandable:

    The night they drove Miss Piggy down
    'cause they needed some bacon
    The night they drove Miss Piggy down
    'cause their tummies were achin'

    They went yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum,
    yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum...

  2. If you haven't read Dylan's bio, check out the pictures of Joan Baez when she was his girlfriend. A total babe.