The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

And what a fucking glorious night THAT must have been, seriously. I’ve always found it interesting that Joan Baez of all people recorded that song and made it a hit. Maybe I should take a look at the lyrics to see how they look from a modern perspective? That’s a thought. There’s so many things we didn’t even notice were problematic back in the day in our comfortable privilege. (I don’t think I can ever watch Sixteen Candles again, honestly, and it was one of my favorite movies. I’m not so sure what that says about me, either.)

Today is another day in the office; I am not sure but I think I have to help out with testing during the needle exchange program today–like I said, I don’t know, but I will be there if they need me. I have other things to do at the office–most of which feels a bit like ‘make-work,’ if I am going to be completely honest, but it’s also tedious little chores that need to be done, and so I might as well do it to fill my day otherwise it may not get done after all. This has been a very weird week for me; I’ve been tired most of the week when I get off work so I’ve not really been getting as much done as I need to be getting done, which means I really need to get motivated for this weekend. I can do that, of course…it’s not always easy, but I can do it. I just have to work on not getting distracted.

Which isn’t as easy as it may sound on paper. (SQUIRREL!!!)

We watched The Batman last night on HBO MAX and I have to say, I really thought it was outstanding. It was nice seeing Gotham City looking like, you know, an actual city as opposed to the dystopic nightmare it has been in almost every Batman film since Tim Burton first brought the Dark Knight to the silver screen back in the 80’s. I also am very impressed with Robert Pattinson, who might be the most interesting iteration of the character yet–and seriously, how did the sparkly vampire from Twilight turn into one of the most interesting and talented young actors of our time? Zoe Kravitz can also be added to the list of well-cast Catwomen from over the years, and there was actually a plot to follow that involved Batman using his investigative skills to solve the mystery and find the Riddler–another excellent take I’d given up on seeing on the big screen–and overall, I didn’t really notice that the movie was nearly three hours long because I could follow the plot, it made sense, and the character arcs were well developed. I think we’re going to rent the most recent Spider-Man (No Way Home) this weekend–I do love Tom Holland–and then we need to figure out something else to watch. A lot of good stuff dropped during the Festival and its aftermath–so we can have our choices of things to watch for quite some time, methinks, which will be really nice. BUT I HAVE TO GET WORK DONE THIS WEEKEND BEFORE I LEAVE FOR NEW YORK OTHERWISE IT WON’T GET DONE UNTIL I GET BACK AND THAT IS SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE.

Most of all, I need to get that fucking short story written.

I really need to get motivated to get writing again–and I need to start going back to the gym as well. My weight hasn’t fluctuated very much since I went down to 200 and ballooned back up to 212 again; I’ve been a pretty steady 210-212 since then, and while I always thought that 200 would probably be the best weight for me, maybe my body is telling me 210 is where it prefers to be? I know I could, with discipline and hard work and proper eating, maybe get back to below 200 but my word, what a lot of work that would be and since I really no longer obsess about how my body looks (one way in which getting older has been beneficial; I really do not miss those days of body dysmorphia and constantly berating myself for not looking like a Calvin Klein underwear model), I don’t think I have the dedication anymore to do that again. It’s hard enough finding the time to go to the gym in the first place, let alone start eating in a different way and counting carbs and all of that nonsense. No thanks, not for me this time around, thank you very much. I suspect that the mild depression I’ve been dealing with over this last month or so has a lot to do with the not-writing and not-working out aspects of my life. That loss of serotonin probably has everything to do with it. I really need to focus.

I also still haven’t picked out my next read. I am thinking about rereading something–or maybe I am going to give Hemingway another try (Don’t Know Tough had a whole thing about the main character reading The Old Man and the Sea–which, along with A Farewell to Arms, I was forced to read in high school which gave me a deep and abiding distaste for Hemingway). I have a copy of To Have and Have Not, which is, in theory, Hemingway’s only crime novel–it was certainly made into a classic Bogart/Bacall movie–but every time I think about Hemingway I groan inside. But maybe now I am old enough to appreciate Hemingway–I also read Fitzgerald when I was too young, but I’ve always enjoyed Faulkner, which is weird. Maybe because he writes about the rural South? I’ve wanted to give Sanctuary another go for quite some time now as well.

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines. Have a happy Friday, Constant Reader, and I will talk to you again tomorrow.

4 thoughts on “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

  1. Having always scrutinized lyrics to songs, I never found “The Night..” problematic, and it always seemed in Joan Baez’s wheelhouse to cover The Band’s song as a protest of the “common man.” It’s storytelling from one poor (economically) man’s point of view. It mentions Robert E. Lee but doesn’t venerate him (and notes that the Army takes what they need–rations, for example?–and the Confederacy’s money is no good (multiple meanings possible there). I think when the speaker says “they should never have taken the very best,” he’s talking about those lost in the war, taken by the Confederate Army to fight, and that’s more anti-war and equally true of the opposing army. He’s a farmer, and even when he mourns the loss of his own brother to the gun of a Yankee soldier, he doesn’t demonize the Yankees.

    Anyone who uses this as any kind of anthem to glorify the South is missing the point. War sucks. It’s loss and waste, two things a farmer abhors. And poor people are always the ones who suffer most, both as cannon fodder and economically from war.

    Of course, my perspective comes from a scholar of Hemingway’s work, too, so I may not be your most in-synch responder. 😉


  2. LOL, I literally could not remember the words other than the opening…”Virgil Kane is my name” and then everything else was a blank, so I thought it best to put a disclaimer for the title usage!

    And I am more than willing to admit my distaste for Papa is mostly based on his public persona. I was too young to read Hemingway when I did, which is why I’ve always intended to go back. (But I will die on the hill of hating THE GREAT GATSBY.)


    1. I’m sure in my young and dumb years, I didn’t see all the problems with the man Hemingway that would put me off now if I renewed the acquaintance. It’s been a long time since I repeatedly reread him, but I sure loved his fiction. I also loved Gatsby, and maybe in both writers’ cases, it was a matter of loving the writing, because they are populated with some unlovable characters, definitely. Gatsby, in particular, is such an American character in the best and worst ways. But I probably shouldn’t ramble on about American lit, especially not in your comments! Though… Faulkner, I LOVED reading Cliff’s Notes and learning about his themes, but damn, I couldn’t comprehend his novels. Trying always ended in tears. It was like math that way. Also, when you are fourteen and taking a Trailways bus with your mother to visit your uncle in Mississippi, trying to read Faulkner’s The Reivers will give you a migraine and that’s what you get for being lured in by Steve McQueen on the cover.


      1. LOL. See, I read SANCTUARY when I was in high school and fell in love with Faulkner, still love him to this day. Not easy to read, but I’ve always loved him.


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