||This article reads like a review rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (July 2008)|
|Single by The Band|
|from the album Northern Lights – Southern Cross|
|Format||Single sleeve LP|
|Genre||Roots rock, Americana|
|Writer(s)||J. R. Robertson|
|The Band singles chronology|
The song is a portrayal of the troubled history of Nova Scotia and Acadia. Specifically, it is about the Expulsion of the Acadians during the French and Indian War between the French and the English over what is now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and most of Maine.
Robertson's lyrics were influenced by Longfellow's poem Evangeline, which describes the deportation of Acadians. On The Band's recording of the song, the lead vocal is traded on the verses between Richard Manuel, Levon Helm, and Rick Danko, with all three singers harmonizing on the choruses. Instrumentally, the recording is noted for its overdubbed fiddle playing by Byron Berline.
Robertson took poetic license with the historical record. The deportations happened during the French and Indian War (1754–1763), rather than starting when "the war was over". The Expulsion began immediately after the British victory in the Battle of Fort Beauséjour (1755) in present-day New Brunswick and not after "What went down on the Plains of Abraham" (1759) in Quebec. The deportations ended when the war ended, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763).
"Acadian Driftwood" was performed by The Band as part of their famous Last Waltz concert. The concert performance was omitted from the Martin Scorsese film of the concert and the original 1978 soundtrack, but was included in the 2002 box set soundtrack.
Richard Shindell also covered the song on his 2007 album South of Delia, as did The Roches on the 2007 multi-artist tribute album, Endless Highway: The Music of The Band. Zachary Richard and Celine Dion also covered the song as a duet on Richard's 2009 album Last Kiss. Phil Beer frequently plays Acadian Driftwood in his solo performances and with the Phil Beer Band.