Civil War songs, part II

Last week's column was the history of "Dixie, " the unofficial national hymn of the Confederacy. Before reading the original lyrics, it might be interesting to meet the man who penned the words and music.

Daniel Emmett led a life that was far from mundane. Born in Ohio on October 29, 1815 he lived for nearly 89 tumultuous years before passing away on June 28, 1904.

As a teenager, Daniel lied about his age and volunteered for the Army. He was a good soldier for a few years but the Army had to discharge him when his true birthdate was discovered. The boredom of farm life did not appeal to him. His musical ability led him into acting and composing. He had already written another classic folksong "Old Dan Tucker" when he was only 16 even though he is remember as the composer of "Dixie." This was the song that earned him international recognition.

His jaunty ballad was introduced on April 4, 1959. It was first published in April l860. Emmett was a gifted musician but a poor businessman. He sold publication rights for $500. Publishers have since made millions of dollars from "Dixie."

In 1970 Emmett was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He had already earned another signal honor. In 1943, Hollywood produced a movie based on his life, "Dixie," starring Academy Award winning actor and singer Bing Crosby as Daniel Decatur Emmett.

Emmett was a loyal Union man. He was unhappy when his composition became the battle hymn for the Confederacy. "If I had known the use they (the CSA) were going to put it to, I would never have written the damned thing," he said.

Here are the original lyrics Emmett wrote for the "walkaround" for the Bryant Ministrel show on Broadway. Note the invitation in the last verse, "Come and hear dis song tomorrow."

I wish I was in de land ob cotton,

Old times dar are not forgotten,

Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land

In Dixie Land where I was born,

Early on one frosty morn',

Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land

(Chorus) Den I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray, hooray,

In Dixie Lan'' I'll take my stan',

To lib an die in Dixie.,

Away, away, away down south in Dixie

Old Missus marry Will de weaber,

William was a gay deceber,

Look way, look away, look away Dixie Land

But when he put his arms around her,

He smiled as fierce as a forty pounder,

Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land


His face was sharp as a butcher's cleaber,

But dat did not seem to grieb her,

Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land,

Old Missus acted the foolish part,

An ' died for a man dat broke her heart,

Look away, look away,look away Dixie Land


Now here's health to the nex' Old Missus,

An' all de gals dat want to kiss us,

Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land,

But if you wants to drive 'way sorrow,

Come and hear dis song tomorrow,

Look away, look away, looka away Dixie Land

(Chorus and finale)

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