Dwight Yoakam’s release of “I Sang Dixie” was the ‘80s definition of southern pride.
The second release from his 1988 album Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room. The song followed up the previous #1 single, “Streets Of Bakersfield,” and hit #1 itself on the Billboard country charts.
The sorrowful ballad flashes back to a post-Civil War America as a young man encounters a former Rebel solider on the streets of Los Angeles in his last moments of life. The man is described as someone whose pride has been “robbed by the bottle,” and as he breathes his last breaths, the young man (implied to be Yoakam himself) sings “Dixie” to him right there on the streets, while others walk by and ignore the scene.
In an act of thankfulness to the young man, the dying old soldier recompenses him with a warning to leave L.A. for good and return to his home with the lyric:
“Listen to me son while you still can, run back home to that Southern land!”
The song’s despairing message winds to a close with the young boy begging the Lord to take the man’s soul back “home to Dixie,” as he continues to sing.
“Dixie” of course refers to a song that became popular during the American Civil War, especially as an anthem of the Confederacy. However, the song was also a favorite of President Abraham Lincoln, a Kentucky native. He had it played at some of his political rallies and at the announcement of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender.
The writer however, Dan Emmett , was pro Union and hated the fact that it was used for the Confederate Army, reportedly saying:
“If I had known to what use they were going to put my song, I will be damned if I’d have written it.”
This lament is guaranteed to hit you in the feels. So go ahead and add this dime to your ‘Sad Country’ playlist, and you can thank me later.
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Our Sad Country Songs Make Me Happy playlist is almost 12 hours of nothing but the biggest tear-jerkers in country music. It’s sure to leave you reaching for the tissues and crying in your beer.
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