Are You From Dixie?
August 1, 2020 | View PDF
Besides appreciating where I came from, my love for the South and its traditions originated with my late mother, Mary Alford Taylor. She was very easy going; however, if anybody talked badly about the South, she would become instantly defiant. It was ingrained in me from day one that Southern people are special and have been wrongly ridiculed by outsiders.
As a youth in the 1960s, I remember listening to WBAM (The Big Bam 740 in Montgomery) and WVOK (The Mighty 690 in Birmingham). Living in Alexander City, I could pick up both stations clearly. The stations would sign on with The Star Spangled Banner and sign off with Dixie. Another good memory of that era was when the band struck up Dixie at football games—everyone would jump to their feet with excitement. This was just part of who we were and where we were from.
Another song tied directly to Southerners is Are You From Dixie? It has been performed by a vast array of entertainers: Grandpa Jones, Roy Clark, Chet Atkins, and even Lawrence Welk’s Orchestra. There is an old YouTube video featuring Tom Jones, Jerry Reed, Glenn Campbell, and Big Jim Sullivan performing the song. If facial expressions can be properly judged, I would say Jones, a native of Wales, enjoyed it as much as the rest of them.
With the kudzu-like expansion of political correctness came what Orwell described as “The Thought Police.” The Thought Police have never liked the South, especially the traditional Christian South, so there have been incessant efforts to undermine it. The demonization of the term “Dixie” is just one of those authoritarian efforts.
There are various theories as to the word’s origin, such as “Dixon” from the Mason-Dixon Line that separates Maryland from Pennsylvania. However, the most common belief is that it originated with the “dix”, which was a French ten-dollar note, common in Louisiana. It simply evolved into the “land of dixies.” How could such an innocuous term be a problem? As if anyone cares, a recent PC move was when The Dixie Chicks dropped Dixie from their name. Some might argue their use of the name actually degraded the word Dixie.
Similarly, Lady Antebellum dropped the word “antebellum” from their name; this illustrates how the Orwellian control of thought and language has taken root. How something that simply means before the war is supposedly offensive boggles the mind, but these are times of weak people looking to be offended and even weaker people succumbing to that agenda.
The song Dixie is generally attributed to Daniel Decatur Emmett of Ohio. However, others contend Ben and Lew Snowden, former black slaves from Maryland who moved close to Emmett’s home in Mount Vernon, Ohio, wrote it. Emmett and the Snowdens were said to have known each other, not only through their geographic proximity but likely through minstrel show connections. The book, Way Up North in Dixie: A Black Family's Claim to the Confederate Anthem, written by Howard and Judith Sacks, makes the argument that the Snowdens wrote, co-wrote, or provided influence for writing the song. Once they settled in Ohio, they looked fondly on the area from whence they came. The song is written in Old South dialect—English Cavalier, Scots-Irish Backcountry, and black slang. The origins of Old South language are meticulously explained in David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed where he traces various “Southern” words and phrases back to the British Isles. [As a side note, as much as Lincoln opposed the South’s right to self-government, Dixie was one of his favorite songs.]
There is also a South vs. North cultural argument that goes back to Great Britain. The settlers who arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 were the first “English people” to establish themselves in America. The “New Englanders” arrived about thirteen years later; however, we hear a lot more about Plymouth Rock than Jamestown. The often-fanatical independent Puritans were driven out of England, and most settled in New England, where they became dominant.
H.L. Mencken described Puritanism as: “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” Admiral Raphael Semmes noted the “Puritan” Yankee’s goal is to remake the world in his own image. We now witness that hideous image being played out. As time goes on, the demonization of the South is unlikely to abate.
The Thought Police can go pound sand—I am proud to say I am from Dixie!