What’s the name of the protagonist of The Band’s song, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”?
Virgil Caine is the name, and I served on the Danville train. So begins the well-loved folk-rock song about the Tennessee farmer left behind in the bloodshed of the Civil War. It’s one of The Bands’ signature tunes and appeared in the concert film ‘The Last Waltz.’ Levon Helm’s may have sang on the original track, but other artists have covered it since, including Joan Baez. Sources: Harvard University Press, Rolling Stone
“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” is a song written by Robbie Robertson and originally recorded by the Canadian-American roots rock group the Band in 1969 and released on their eponymous second album. Levon Helm provided the lead vocals. The song is a first-person narrative relating the economic and social distress experienced by the protagonist, a poor white Southerner, during the last year of the American Civil War. Frequently appearing on lists of the best rock songs of all time, it has been cited as an early example of the genre known as roots rock.
Joan Baez recorded a cover of the song that became a top-five chart hit in late 1971.