In 2015, Alabama native Riley Green introduced himself with the song “Bury Me in Dixie,” a three-and-a-half minute appreciation of his home state that quickly turned into his signature number. Name-checking lesser-known locales along with rival college towns Tuscaloosa and Auburn, it was the kind of song designed to get bar crowds singing along à la “Sweet Home Alabama” when he played shows.
All this early attention helped Green sign with Nashville’s Big Machine Label Group, which began promoting his singles to radio. He scored his first country Number One hit early in 2019 with “There Was This Girl” and, in September, he released his debut album, Different ‘Round Here.
“Bury Me in Dixie” wasn’t featured on that collection, but the song has recently become a topic of renewed interest. Many have seized on the lyric, “I wish Robert E. Lee could come and take a bow” as being troublesome for its praise of the famed Confederate general and what he represents.
As of earlier this month, “Bury Me in Dixie” is no longer available for listening on any of the streaming platforms. Multiple sources have confirmed to Rolling Stone that the song was pulled from all digital service providers because of the Lee reference and the controversy beginning to swirl around it.
Green and reps at his label declined to comment on the song’s removal.
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“In terms of Confederate nostalgia, it isn’t the worst I’ve ever heard, certainly, but it’s pretty obvious,” says Dr. Charles Hughes, author of the music history Country Soul, tells Rolling Stone.
Some of Green’s fans are more upset that the song has disappeared than its lyrical content. A search for “Bury Me in Dixie” on Twitter reveals a flurry of posters sending frustrated messages to Spotify and Apple Music to find out what became of it.
Green is hardly the first to pull a song from streaming services over controversy. In January, singer Lady Gaga deleted the song “Do What You Want,” a duet with R. Kelly, in the wake of dream hampton’s Surviving R. Kelly and new information about the singer’s sexual misconduct. Even Taylor Swift, a one-time labelmate of Green’s, scrubbed the internet of any trace of the original version of “Picture to Burn,” in which she threatened to tell people her ex-boyfriend was gay as a form of retaliation.
Whether Green will continue playing the song in his live shows is another story: it appeared in the set during Green’s October 12th performance at Alabama’s Talladega Super Speedway, but it’s unclear if he’ll continue to incorporate the song in future sets.