Jimmy Arnold - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (3:39)
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down - Jimmy Arnold (3:37)

Songwriter: Robbie Robertson
Publishing & PRO: Canaan Music, ASCAP

If ever there was a musician who embodied the image of free spirited independent “Mountain Man,” it was Virginia-born Jimmy Arnold. In his often wild, too short life (he passed away of a heart attack in 1992 at the age of 46) Arnold learned from legends and became one himself. He spent several years playing on the road with Charlie Moore’s Dixie Partners and Cliff Waldron’s New Shades of Grass but toward the end of his life he was performing mostly as a solo act, sometimes with Vassar Clements, Tex Logan or Mike Auldridge. He was fascinated by stories of the Civil War, and his years living in Fredericksburg, Virginia culminated in his masterpiece, Southern Soul, a strongly evocative homage to the Civil War South and considered by many to be one of the all-time classic concept albums.

Southern Soul marked Arnold’s debut as a vocalist and as a fine writer of more than just instrumentals. Familiar tunes such as Charlie Moore’s “Legend of the Rebel Soldier” and The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” were balanced nicely alongside of Arnold originals such as “Jesse James,” “Heroes,” “Georgia Moon,” “The Dixon Line,” and others. Several songs, including “My Home’s Across the Blue Ridge Mountains,” were given new and/or additional lyrics to make them more Civil War-friendly. Instrumentally, Jimmy shone on tunes such as “Sail Away Ladies,” “Southern Comfort,” and “Bonaparte’s Retreat.”