U.S. Child Labor, Dorsey Dixon, Babies In The Mill, Newport
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Uploaded on Dec 25, 2007
The music for this video is from Dorsey Dixon, the songwriter of Babies In The Mill. Dorsey sings and accompanies himself on the guitar on this song as he did on all of his recordings on this CD.
This cut of Babies In The Mill was released as one of 19 songs written by Dorsey Dixon on the CD: Babies In The Mill, Carolina Traditional, Industrial, Sacred Songs, 1997, HMG Hightone Records.
Dorsey also recorded with his younger brother Howard Dixon, as the duo The Dixon Brothers. I knew Dorsey personally as a child, and oh if I knew then, what I know now!!!!
This clip documents a dark part of the history of the United States as mostly seen through the lens of photographer Lewis W. Hine. American child labor was prolific in southern cotton mills and all kinds of other industries in other parts of the country. This video doccuments the period of approximately 1900-1920.
Dorsey Dixon was a great songwriter who also happened to have been forced to work in a cotton mill as a young teen. He knew all of the 'ins and outs' of that time in history. Dixon wrote Babies In The Mill as a 'memory song' remembering his time as a child working in a cotton mill.
Dixon also penned the Bluegrass standard 'Wreck On The Highway', cut by Roy Acuff. Babies In The Mill is one of Dixon's best songs, IMHO - even more to my liking than Wreck On The Highway.
Dixon was a socio-religious activist, poet, textile worker, noted guitarist and songwriter who called both North and South Carolina home.
The highlight of his career (per critics), was performing along with others on the bill, including Bob Dylan, Doc Watson and Maybelle Carter, at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963. Newport happened for Dorsey just five years prior to his death. Dixon's Newport live performance was released on vinyl by Vanguard Records (Old Time Music At Newport).
Dorsey Dixon lived in my hometown, was a friend of my father's and performed often at my grandfather's church. He also played music with my father, who was a piano player, in our living room.
Dorsey did not gain any significant royalties from 'Wreck On The Highway', even though Acuff's first release of Wreck On The Highway was a hit record. At that time Acuff had assigned himself 'the songwriting credit' and received all royalties generated by the cut.
A live version of Roy Acuff's 'Wreck On The Highway' was included in the original 1972, widely aclaimed release, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken'. Unfortunately, the liner notes listed 'Dorothy Dixon' as the songwriter of Wreck On The Highway. This LP was released 4 years after Dorsey Dixon's death.
Just to set the record straight, Wreck On The Highway (or as first recorded in 1938 by The Dixon Brothers as 'I Didn't Hear Anybody Pray'), was written by Dorsey Dixon, not Roy Acuff as Acuff claimed for a number of years. Roy Acuff ripped it off from Dixon and later had to pay Dorsey a settlement, which according to my father, amounted to about $80 bucks! Talk about injustice!
Dixon also penned another favorite, 'Intoxicated Rat'.
I've been able to find most all of Dorsey & The Dixon Brother's music on CD. Just google Dorsey Dixon and The Dixon Brothers and you'll come up with hits of where to purchase the CD's.
Dorsey would want to be remembered as first a Christian, (being a deeply religious Free Will Baptist) and lastly as an activist through his music.
Rest In Peace dearest, sweet Dorsey and know that you will never be forgotton if I have anything to do with it ...
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