Forget Virgil; Gimme Crazy Chester!

Yesterday’s post about Tom McCoy being in Danville, Virginia led me to the Band’s reference to Danville in “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”  From Wikipedia:

Stoneman has been memorialized by songwriter Robbie Robertson of The Band, whose 1969 rock and roll song, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down“, referred to one of Stoneman’s 1865 raids:
Virgil Caine is the name, and I served on the Danville train,
Til Stoneman’s cavalry came and tore up the tracks again…

Stoneman is not mentioned in several Joan Baez recordings of the song. Her interpretation substituted “so much” for “Stoneman’s,” because that’s how it sounds in The Band’s version.

When it comes to songs by the Band though, “The Weight”  is still my favorite for several reasons.  It probably has the most characters ever in a song as it featured Luke, Crazy Chester, Miss Moses, Carmen, the Devil, Fanny, Anna Lee (Annie) and even Jack the dog!  (For more info on the song and the characters click here.  Maybe I like this song so much because growing up at Buzzy’s there always seemed to be a lot of Crazy Chesters hanging around!)  Here’s the Band’s live performance of the song with the Staple Singers.

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