Checking for the year of the song “Dixie,” I came upon the remarkable fact that the original conceit of this minstrel song was that a freed slave is pining for the land of his birth and servitude. Huh? I always assumed it was a transplanted white Southerner. Yes, nostalgia is powerful, but still . . .
Yet more discoveries in Wikipedialand: There were campfire parody versions: “Pork and cabbage in the pot, / It goes in cold and comes out hot.” And Union versions:
- On! ye patriots to the battle,
- Hear Fort Moultrie’s cannon rattle!
- Then away, then away, then away to the fight!
- Go meet those Southern traitors,
- With iron will.
- And should your courage falter, boys,
- Remember Bunker Hill.
- Hurrah! Hurrah! The Stars and Stripes forever!
- Hurrah! Hurrah! Our Union shall not sever!
Despite the hard-to-fathom sense of the original (Did buckwheat cakes and ‘Injun batter’ really make fat slaves?), one can see why the Union song never made it to the big time, and why Abraham Lincoln made a point of having the original “Dixie” sung by is army band as soon as the war was over. It’s a great song, greater than its benighted conceit.