June 12

Dwight Yoakam’s “I Sang Dixie” Laments About the Civil War

Dwight Yoakam's "I Sang Dixie" Laments About the Civil War 1
Dwight Yoakam. Photo Credits: usatoday.com

About the Song

Released in October 1988, “I Sang Dixie” is a country song penned and originally recorded by Kentucky native Dwight Yoakam. This three-minute song was produced by American guitarist and music producer Pete Anderson and released by the label Reprise 27715. It is the second single on his 1988 album Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room.

I Sang Dixie” entered the music charts just after its release in October 1988. It went on to place no. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs the following year on February 25. In addition, it also fared well on the year-end charts. It placed no. 6 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks while no. 23 on the Billboard Country Songs.

Story Behind the Song

Although a proud West Coast cowpunk, Dwight Yoakam stays as a Southern country boy. With its fiddle and true Southern sound, “I Sang Dixie” expresses a sorrowful message as a Civil War lament. Whereas, it recounts a vagabond settler’s forlorn death on an old street in Los Angeles.

Dwight Yoakam's "I Sang Dixie" Laments About the Civil War 2
Photo Credits: bittersouthener.com

The theme of the song revolves around a man witnessing the despondent death of a Southern man while singing “Dixie” to comfort him. He then narrates how other people just pass by and walk on ignoring the man’s suffering.

The song concludes with a sad mellow tune with a farewell remark saying:

“No more pain, and now he’s safe back home in Dixie.”

I Sang Dixie” would definitely be one of Yoakam’s several nostalgic and homesick songs he wrote inspired by his personal visits back home. On the other hand, Pete Anderson, the song producer, considered it as a hole card. He said:

“I thought it was his best song… a Number One record.”

Watch Dwight Yoakam perform his 1988 hit “I Sang Dixie” below:

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Dwight Yoakam, I Sang Dixie


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