It’s news that will lift very many hearts in these challenging and turbulent times. Robbie Robertson has announced that the song, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” first recorded and released by The Band in 1969, will be banned from all future sale, in whatever form. The original master tapes of all of The Band’s performances of it are to be destroyed. There will be no further publishing rights granted to any artist under any circumstances. Although it will take some time, the song is to be erased, as if it never existed in the first place.*
This is a great thing, because there’s no justification for this kind of drivel any more. America is finally growing up. We know now that there can be no sympathy for any individual caught in the waves of history, trying in his flawed way to do his best and make his way through it with some shred of humanity intact. We know that we must squarely acknowledge only what is worst in that person, only those things about which he was mistaken, and we need to rip down the memory of anything redeemable about him, and, to the extent practically possible, we are morally obliged to defile his grave. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” had always seemed to me to be a song that brought people together in empathy for those caught in a whirlwind of war and politics and destruction, crying out in a very particular white Southern voice but one all the more believable for its specificity to time and place, and one that could touch the heartstrings of those from entirely alien backgrounds.
Today, of-course, it would just make you want to throw up.
We’re better than that now, and we’re getting better and better each and every day and in every way. Long live our new, budding world of universal understanding. Peace is finally coming. Why did it take so long to arrive?
The deletions are progressing, but there’s still one or two versions of this song out on YouTube at the time of writing. Watch and listen below if you want a reminder of how sick things used to be. But forgive me if I pass, and hold on to your stomach.
* DISCLAIMER: This post is satirical (at the time of writing). No disrespect is intended to The Band or anyone associated with The Band.