06 April 2013

What is the saddest song in the English language?

The saddest song in the English language is the The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by The Band. The song is intended to be a Confederate soldier's depiction of the suffering and hopelessness in the closing days of the Civil War. No Confederate sympathies here, but in spite of that, the story of some guy fighting on the wrong side of history manages to be ridiculously sad.

The key element is the character of Virgil Caine, the soldier in question. Virgil seems to be a low level guy working on supply lane between Danville and Richmond. Personally, he's suffered considerably. His brother had been killed in the war. Virgil's not fairing a whole lot better, as he describes himself and those around him as "hungry, just barely alive".

Virgil's a fairly simple guy. He comes from a line of farmers and it seems like its of the sustenance farming variety; he isn't above chopping wood for some extra cash. Virgil probably doesn't really stand to gain much from the war. It's basically impossible to assign a single cause to the Civil War, but whether you're in the slavery, states' rights, or tariffs camp the war isn't about improving life for Virgil. He's tied to the conflict merely because he's tied to the land.

Virgil's fucked. The only way to end his suffering will be that his side loses. And through all this, he's utterly powerless. The supply train he's on is continuously having its tracks torn up by the Union troops. The situation is perfectly futile. He's in a conflict where he can gain nothing, has already lost basically everything, and can't do anything. And it's playing out over and over again.

Pretty fucking sad.


  1. Anonymous12/4/13 21:35

    You know, I think where you went wrong was your choice of topic.

  2. what is the worst website in the english language?

  3. these are basically the best comments i have ever received, ever