Band, The - Acadian Driftwood Lyrics

The war was over and the spirit was broken
The hills were smokin' as the men withdrew
We stood on the cliffs
Oh, and watched the ships
Slowly sinking to their rendezvous
They signed a treaty and our homes were taken
Loved ones forsaken
They didn't give a damn
Try'n' to raise a family
End up the enemy
Over what went down on the plains of Abraham

Acadian driftwood
Gypsy tail wind
They call my home the land of snow
Canadian cold front movin' in
What a way to ride
Oh, what a way to go

Then some returned to the motherland
The high command had them cast away
And some stayed on to finish what they started
They never parted
They're just built that way
We had kin livin' south of the border
They're a little older and they've been around
They wrote a letter life is a whole lot better
So pull up your stakes, children and come on down

Fifteen under zero when the day became a threat
My clothes were wet and I was drenched to the bone
Been out ice fishing, too much repetition
Make a man wanna leave the only home he's known
Sailed out of the gulf headin' for Saint Pierre
Nothin' to declare
All we had was gone
Broke down along the coast
But what hurt the most
When the people there said
"You better keep movin' on"

Everlasting summer filled with ill-content
This government had us walkin' in chains
This isn't my turf
This ain't my season
Can't think of one good reason to remain
We worked in the sugar fields up from New Orleans
It was ever green up until the floods
You could call it an omen
Points ya where you're goin'
Set my compass north
I got winter in my blood

Acadian driftwood
Gypsy tail wind
They call my home the land of snow
Canadian cold front movin' in
What a way to ride
Ah, what a way to go

Other Lyrics by Artist

Rand Lyrics

Band, The Acadian Driftwood Comments
  1. Procopio, Jr Palacios

    Beautiful song, accompanied by beautiful artwork. (The central figure at 5:11, "You could call it an omen"...resembles the singer, Arkansas good ol' boy Levon Helm!)

  2. James Nack

    Try to remember that four fifths of this band were Canadians. Only Levon was a citizen of the US.

  3. Faaris Ahmad


  4. Benedict Sinister

    This song is included in Benedict Sinister’s Franglais Song Master List:
    Check out Benedict Sinister’s own Franglais masterpiece, “Ne dramatise pas”:
    It’s also mentioned is his essay “Franglais Rocks”:

  5. pak47man

    Nice piece of work! Your visuals add a great background to this brilliant but tragic song.

  6. pak47man

    Nice piece of work! Your visuals add a great background to this brilliant but tragic song.

  7. Jack Smith

    Love the fiddle. The song is a masterpiece.

  8. teruichi kurihara


  9. Karmen Jazbec

    yeah boys

  10. carlos morton

    We worked in the shuggahfields, up from, new awleanssss😝😍🍻

  11. Terry Quesenberry

    Smart Band..and pointed.True North!

  12. Ed Pomphrey

    Visited the Plains of Abraham last week.

  13. RelicGuitarShop

    When people say they think Bon Jovi is the greatest band of all time.......... omg, i cringe. The mettle of a band is and should NEVER be measured by commercial success. These guys will always be the muso's musos. Trust me, I'm one.

  14. Nolan Knight

    love it

  15. Ericknowsbest !

    Crying over this must be a Canadian thing

    Guy Belliveau

    An Acadian thing.


    @Guy Belliveau For sure it is most deeply felt by the Acadian community. However, my heritage is Scottish from Nova Scotia and I couldn't stop the tears at the film of the Expulsion, on display in the museum at Grand-Pré. My friend from Ontario felt the same. I think there is a universal feeling of horror, dismay, and shame that this happened in the Maritimes, and what was later to become Canada.

  16. Russ Fain

    do I have dual citizenship with canada as well as usa? russ fain

  17. _____

    Far out what a banger - 1st time ever hearing this - Australia!

  18. Damien Faure

    This song is almost unknown is France!

    Guy Belliveau

    Please share it with your friends.

    Damien Faure

    @Guy Belliveau With pleasure because this song talks about a part of our history. ;o)

  19. heavyduty1ful

    Excellent video, Guy!

  20. John Mihalker

    Feel Good Music!!!!

  21. Sean Hennessey

    the last great Band song...miaybe

  22. jojacool

    Magic song........

  23. lauren williams

    My AP United States history teacher introduced my class to this song. (Thanks Mr. yanko)


    Yanko, man-crushin' on Danko, very cool.

  24. Bill Lloyd

    Sort of a Canadian 'Night They Drove Old Dixie Down'.

    Guy Belliveau

    Not so much but both great songs.

  25. Anthony Calnero

    Went out ice fishing....

  26. nelsano3

    That clavinet and fiddle playing over that Dm9 to wierd inverted eb chord is hauntingly beautiful. I listen to this over and over it just gets better, What a record

  27. copycoonie

    All ways loved it . Still do , all ways will . Real songs for real people .

  28. Country


  29. Patty Stewart

    This was my first favourite song from The Band. It captured me from St. Louis Mo where I first heard it to Prince George, BC Canada, today, more than 30 years later. It has been a long road with this song still sweet on my brain. Canadian cold front movin in. And I am home now.

  30. Jersey Smelltours

    The Band...The Best...period..

  31. Jean-Philippe Blouin

    Génocide acadien

  32. luke brown

    They have a few songs about history/ underdogs and the common man in war, I.e. old Dixie down

  33. ninja vigilante

    Anyone see that there coming out with a Canadian heritage moment about this part in history?

    Guy Belliveau

    It's a very touching moment.

  34. huh

    Good song

  35. david hickey

    One of my favorite songs of All Time--such soul about a true story of a persecuted people. I don't know for certain, but I'll bet my son knows the words by heart, as I used to sing this to the record as I walked him to calm him. Levon Helm is genius,

  36. Francis Madigan

    This history needs to be told and The Band found a way of telling it with grand eloquence in song .

  37. Stephen Johnson


    A Tale of Acadie

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

    THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
    Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
    Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
    Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
    Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean 5
    Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

    This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
    Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
    Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,—
    Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands, 10
    Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
    Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!
    Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
    Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o’er the ocean.
    Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pré. 15

    Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,
    Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman’s devotion,
    List to the mournful tradition, still sung by the pines of the forest;
    List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy....

  38. Gweneth Reed

    One of the best songs by the best group ever. Miss you Levon, our Arkansas boy. <3

  39. GuitarJim Bourke

    Has Acadian roots..

  40. Ambient Infinite Video AIV

    A ballad is a short story in verse, which is intended to be sung with the accompaniment of music. It is opposite to the Epic, which is a lengthy story in verse.

  41. Philip Halpenny

    Robbie Robertson turns 76 today. His best song?

    Catherine Oetjengerdes

    I don't want to talk about it-how you broke my heart.way way better than Rod version/cover

    Philip Halpenny

    @Catherine Oetjengerdes It is a beautiful song by the tragic Danny Whitten...

  42. Virgil Hurst


    Virgil Hurst



    Derived from Arcadia.Beautiful song of a sad story.

  44. Raymantico

    Timeless history

  45. gary hynes

    The song is an adventure.

  46. JesusIsSouthern

    J'ai le mal du pays, aussi, mon ami. Je comprend totallement.

  47. Irene Mazis

    Work of art

  48. Garrett Sawyer

    Great song. I live in maine. Many french folks and their ancestors. Beautiful area, lots of sights to see.

    Guy Belliveau

    Deportation of occupants from conquered lands was commonplace in that era. However, it was uncommon to do so close to 40 years (1755) after the conquest (1713).
    Deportation of occupants typically meant relocating those people to their original homeland (France). In this case, the deportees were deported to hostile lands in British colonies. This was the largest “ethnic cleansing” operation in history. 12,000 Acadians were deported during 1755 and 1763.
    The deportation into hostile lands had the purpose of making the Acadians “slaves” in their new locations. Acadian homes and crops were burnt, livestock killed and families were split up, separated and deported to different locations under the direction of Lawrence and Shirley into the British Colonies of North America.
    It is estimated that of the 12,000 to 18,000 Acadians alive in 1755, 7,500 to 9,000 perished during the period between 1755 and 1763 from the effects of the deportation.
    The song isn’t necessarily historically accurate.

    Garrett Sawyer

    Ive read about this. It is sad.

  49. Ed Olearczyk

    England and France had been at war for centuries. British domination of the North American continent ended with the American Revolution except in Canada.

    Ray Lavallee

    We didn't need to fight with them, only had to wait 100 years and could part as friends.

  50. Ronnie

    A great song. I was sorry to see the band break up. I always felt a certain closeness to Levon Helm, as he grew in my wife's birthplace, and close to mine as well. He was a special musician who had a great effect on many, not the least of all, Eric Clapton, who changed his whole style after he heard the Band's first albums.

  51. Byron Trimm

    Recommended:"Evangeline of the Prairie"'by Longfellow.

  52. Gary Thompson

    classy, intelligent song by a classy intelligent band!!!!!! RIP Levon!! Even though the critics didn't care for it we tremendously miss your, occasionally raspy voice!!!

  53. fishinsolitude

    Pulled straight from history and tellin the story beautifully, Acadian Driftwood is my favorite song from The Band.

  54. John Ashley-Smith

    A beautiful song I remember being taught in primary school in the 70s with hippies for teachers. So melancholy, the heartbreak of the death and birth of nations......owed at least remembrance...

  55. M L

    shoulda played this, in History class

  56. thomas kelly

    tough being french when French fought the English

  57. Dagaan Galakticos

    My Barrett relatives in Ct. got there during the Revolutionary War. My aunt married a man who owns farm land along the Ct. river claimed from back then. A Barrett in Mass. is credited with having shot the 'shot heard round the world' the cannon discovered in the '80's when they dug up his farm.

  58. Ben Dummitt

    Always a class act. A lost art.

  59. Tent Ringer

    Great song about the hardships suffered by refugees.

  60. Billy Dub

    Unbelievably great song.

  61. DE Yurgens

    Acadia was a North American colony started by France in 1604. "Acadian Driftwood" is about the Expulsion of the Acadians, which involved Britain forcing the deportation of more than 11,000 Acadians during the French and Indian War. Known as the "Acadian Migration," the story is one that intrigued group leader Robbie Robertson, who wrote the song.

    "Acadian Driftwood"
    (from "The Last Waltz" soundtrack)

    The war was over and the spirit was broken
    The hills were smokin' as the men withdrew
    We stood on the cliffs
    Oh, and watched the ships
    Slowly sinking to their rendezvous
    They signed a treaty and our homes were taken
    Loved ones forsaken
    They didn't give a damn
    Try'n' to raise a family
    End up the enemy
    Over what went down on the plains of Abraham

    Acadian driftwood
    Gypsy tail wind

    Markk Rathbun

    Thanks for teaching

  62. John Ferrick

    Truely amazing how they nailed it every time with who song what lyrics on every incredible tune

  63. pretorious700

    My father's people were Acadian, my mother's grandparents born in Ireland, fled the potato famine. Displacement is in my blood. What an amazing song.

  64. Mike Martin

    This song is history (if you actually listen to the words and have a bit of heart) it will make a man shed a tear.

    david hickey

    I have shed tears over it

    Joseph Neari

    Man, you’re not kidding. My first listen honestly.

    Ken Jeannotte

    And goose bumps. Achingly beautiful. Far enough back our paternal line was involved, ended up in New Hampshire. There is a Jeannotte mercantile in Nashua to this day. Traditional Acadian goods.

    Bob H

    all of the above & below,,,

  65. James A Dempsey

    When Richard and Rick join in after Levon's first verse part I got chills that lasted the whole chorus.

  66. Mike Martin

    History and amazing music blended into 1. Just a beautifully sad song, if you can actually hear the song..

  67. Captain Dan

    The wind chill today is 15 under zero I hope the day dont become a threat

    Grizzly Bear

    good u true white bred

  68. BadDawg Bobby

    I 'm a Miron and Somehow ,

  69. Roger Alsop

    Real Cajun music is more exciting that The Band.

  70. inthezoneeeechief

    They call my home the land of snow <3

    Grizzly Bear

    every word is a gem

  71. OHBCPicker

    Ah! The Band. Nothin' like 'em. Saw them in Fall of 1967 as I recall while at UC Santa Barbara, the concert was in the basketball gym. Sittin'
    right up close. Absolutely nothing like it. Puts a real big ol' satisfied smile on my ol' face.

  72. OHBCPicker

    Ah! The Band. Nothin' like 'em. Saw them in Fall of 1967 as I recall while
    at UC Santa Barbara, the concert was in the basketball gym. Sittin'
    right up close. Absolutely nothing like it. Puts a real big ol' satisfied smile on my ol' face.

  73. Jack Linonis

    Beautiful song! Allez Vite L"Acadie!

  74. Susan Book

    I don't know, I just cannot get enough of this? A special moment, to know this was one of my 34 year old son's favorite. Band is ageless.

  75. George Christie

    Damn Yankees, killed democracy

  76. davehoganmusic

    What are they saying in French at the end?

  77. John Jereb

    Simply one of the greatest bands of all time,BUT, they paid their dues,with Ronnie Hawkins, in dive bars in Ontario,then with Dylan,getting booed on stages all over the world,they honed their craft,Garth, was the musicians musician,Levon,the primary voice,so unique,but Rick and Richard,were fantastik singers too,along with Robbies lyrics and guitr ,its sad what drugs and booze ,fame and fortune,can do to people,but these guys ,made musical history ,and once, they were brothers...

  78. Daniel Isenstein

    Really cool video you put together. This is one of my favorite Band tunes form their later works. It's very narrative, even for the Band. Your pictures really bring the lyrics to life...thanks and good job

  79. BadDawg Bobby

    This song was written about my Heritage.

  80. Crewmax42

    Love this song.

  81. Ross McKernan

    Could any Francophiles in here tell me what the lyrics mean at the end? And is this a traditional song?


    From Peter Viney: "Sais tu, A-ca-di-e, j'ai le mal du pays
    You know, Acadia, I long for the country (I am homesick)
    Ta neige, Acadie, fait des larmes au soleil
    Your snow, Acadia, makes tears in the sun (or for the sun)
    J'arrive Acadie, teedle um, teedle um, teedle ooh
    I am arriving Acadia (or I am coming Acadia)"

    Ross McKernan

    @pamark05 You are a hero Sir. Thank you!

  82. Dwight Renfield 86

    "Set my compass north, I got winter in my blood"

  83. Joel Bergeron

    Merci Guy, from Joel Bergeron in New Orleans LA

  84. My beautiful beautiful world

    Inappropriate video slide for this beautiful piece of music.


    How is the imagery used in the video "inappropriate"? The images are about the Acadian Expulsion.

  85. Anthony Navarro

    Too good!

  86. Grizzly Bear

    bob dylan said this was the bands best song i agree

    Grizzly Bear

    and maybe ever

  87. Curtis Everett

    I think they were time travelers...............

  88. thomas kelly

    Le Jolie blond

  89. Lisa M

    Robbie Robertson! Ahhhhhhh that voice.......

    Patrick Kitts

    I really admire Robbie Robertson's guitar playing and his songwriting/lyrical ability is amazing. That's not him singing on this song though. Truth be told, singing was not his talent.

  90. Paul Goodwin

    To my Grammie.

  91. Sam Pickles

    a fuckin beaut of a song,

  92. visionman61

    A sad song made more sad by the beautiful singing one if The Bands Best

  93. visionman61

    This is such a sad song made more sad by the beautiful singing,One of the Bands Best

  94. Kent Allan Beck

    Should also compliment the video here-well researched, and wonderfully made. Suits the song, --which is no small feat !

  95. timber_beast

    I grew up in a colonial town in CT and like many others we had an "Acadian House" that dates back to this 18th century diaspora. This is an important event all Americans should learn about. And This is one of the Band's best songs - and that's saying a lot.

    Joshua Dowling

    @iluv music Thank Jebus! I haven't been for a few years, but, I get on Lake Windfall. Listen to a $5 transiter. Perfection.

    Joshua Dowling

    I knew of of their popular songs on shit radio. My bud's older brother was a fanatic. He turned me on to this song. Thanks Geoff.

    Joshua Dowling

    @bopp9 Correct Sir. I'm American. I apologize. Especially for our asshole President.

    Texas Rebel

    Does anyone know what Louisiana is?

    N Campeau

    Tabby Smithfield a a edrrrfftgyyhhhhhjjjjkkkkkkœpa. @2eeddrrxr. Rtf*yuhuuhuuuuui