Wagon Wheel (song)
"Wagon Wheel" cover
|Song by Old Crow Medicine Show from the album O.C.M.S.|
|Released||February 24, 2004|
|Recorded||2003 at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee|
|Genre||Country, Americana, folk, bluegrass|
|Writer||Bob Dylan, Ketch Secor|
|O.C.M.S. track listing|
"Wagon Wheel," not to be confused with the song by Lou Reed of the same name, is a song originally sketched by Bob Dylan and later completed by Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show. Old Crow Medicine Show's version was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in April 2013. The song has also been covered by blues artist Matt Andersen and Against Me! in 2005, Jeremy McComb in 2007, Mumford & Sons in 2010, Northern Irish singer Nathan Carter in 2012, and by Darius Rucker in 2013 .
The song describes a hitchhiking journey south along the eastern coast of the United States, from New England in the northeast, through Roanoke, Virginia with the intended destination of Raleigh, North Carolina, where the protagonist hopes to see his lover. Along the way, he shares a smoke with a trucker who is traveling from Philadelphia through Virginia westward toward the Cumberland Gap and Johnson City, Tennessee. It is not clear from the lyrics whether the protagonist traveled with the trucker from Philly to Roanoke before parting ways to head south into North Carolina, or whether he simply crossed paths with the trucker outside of Roanoke.
Old Crow Medicine Show's version of the song is in 2/2 time signature, with an approximate tempo of 76 half notes per minute. It uses the I-V-vi-IV pattern in the key of A major, with the main chord pattern of A-E-F♯m-D.
Background and writing
"Wagon Wheel" is composed of two different parts. The chorus and melody for the song comes from a demo recorded by Bob Dylan during the Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid sessions. Although never officially released, the Dylan song was released on a bootleg and is usually named after the chorus and its refrain, "Rock Me Mama". Although Dylan left the song an unfinished sketch, Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show wrote verses for the song around Dylan's original chorus. Secor's additional lyrics transformed "Rock Me Mama" into "Wagon Wheel". Secor has stated the song is partially autobiographical. The song has become extremely popular since its inclusion on Old Crow Medicine Show's major label debut, O.C.M.S. in 2004, although the song appeared in an earlier form on the now out-of-print "Troubles Up and Down the Road" EP in 2001. Dylan's song is often credited to "A. Crudup.", and the official publishing information is Dylan/Secor.
As Chris 'Critter' Fuqua of Old Crow describes it:
' I'd gotten a (Bob) Dylan bootleg in like ninth grade and I let (band co-founder) Ketch (Secor) listen to it, and he wrote the verses because Bob kind of mumbles them and that was it. We've been playing that song since we were like 17, and it's funny because we've never met Dylan, but the song is technically co-written by Bob Dylan. What's great about "Wagon Wheel" is that it has grown organically. The popularity of it was all based on word of mouth. There was no radio airplay for it. We made a music video for it, but it wasn't "November Rain" or anything. No one was like, "Oh my God, what's this video about?" And 16 years later, it went gold, then Darius Rucker cut it.'
- So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
- Rock me mama anyway you feel
- Hey mama rock me
- Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
- Rock me mama like a south-bound train
- Hey mama rock me
Secor's verses tell "the story of a man who travels from New England, through Philadelphia, down the eastern coast of the United States, ending up in Raleigh, North Carolina where he hopes to see his lover." They contain a geographic impossibility: heading "west from the Cumberland Gap" to Johnson City, Tennessee . . "you’d have to go east." Secor explains: "I got some geography wrong, but I still sing it that way. I just wanted the word ‘west’ in there. ‘West’ has got more power than 'east.'"
The group reportedly performed the song at the Station Inn in Nashville in 2001, as part of a series of songs commemorating Bob Dylan's 60th birthday. The group's version of the song was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in April 2013. To celebrate they released a limited edition 7” vinyl record of the song with "'All Night Long' Live At The Station Inn" (2003) on the B-side. Asked mid-2008 if he gets "sick of playing it every night?" Secor responded: "I don’t mind playing it every night. I like to see what it does to people, and it’s nice to have something that’s guaranteed, especially when you’re shuffling through new material."
Called a "catchy country-infused sing-along that has taken on the status of 'Free Bird'"[n 1]—has become the group's signature song, in some ways bigger than the group itself, even though the song's origins predate Old Crow's formation.
"Wagon Wheel" was nominated as 2013 Song of the Year for the 47th Annual Country Music Association Awards Single of the Year, along with "I Drive Your Truck" (Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary), "Mama's Broken Heart" (Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves), "Merry Go 'Round" (Kacey Musgraves, Josh Osborne, Shane McAnally), and "Pontoon" (Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird, Barry Dean).
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||40,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,167,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
Darius Rucker version
|Single by Darius Rucker|
|from the album True Believers|
|Released||January 7, 2013|
|Length||4:58 (album version)|
|Darius Rucker singles chronology|
Darius Rucker joined Old Crow Medicine Show at the Grand Ole Opry July 6, 2012, "for a special rendition of ‘Wagon Wheel.’" The fans "went crazy over Rucker’s cover of the Old Crow Medicine Show hit," setting the stage for his tweeted announcement: "Secret out after @opry perf. I recorded a version of ‘Wagon Wheel’ for my new record & @ladyantebellum sings on track.” The new album, True Believers, is his third solo project on Capitol Records. Rucker's cover is the album's second single.
The song did not at first appeal to Rucker. "Somebody had played ‘Wagon Wheel’ for me years ago," he says. "It was one of those things that I didn’t really get." The faculty band at his daughter's high school performing had a different effect, as he relates . .
"So, I’m at my daughter’s high school talent show, and I’m sitting in the audience with my family. We were watching my daughter, and the faculty band gets up. It’s just the faculty from her school, and they play ‘Wagon Wheel.’ I’m sitting in the audience, and they get to the middle of the chorus, and I turned to my wife, and I go, ‘I’ve got to cut this song.’ I’m serious. This all happened in three-and-a-half minutes, four minutes, while they’re playing the song."
"I called up Charles [Kelley] and he said 'yes', and then a couple day(s) later I ran into Dave (Haywood) and Hillary (Scott) at a concert and mentioned it to them and they said sure. Two days later they were in the studio doing it . . Lady Antebellum took the song to a new level. Up until they added their vocals, I thought it was another song on the record."
Interestingly, Rucker had been introduced to Fuqua's source for Dylan's outtake years prior:
"I got turned onto the Pat Garrett soundtrack when I worked retail back in the day. It's so different from a lot of his other stuff. It's such a cool record."
And Rucker's had some experience with crediting Dylan on a song he'd performed. Hootie and the Blowfish's third single, released in 1995, "Only Wanna Be With You," quotes a few lines from the Dylan song "Idiot Wind" (1975). Says Rucker today:
"That was a straight tribute to him. I wrote it around the time I was listening to Blood on the Tracks every day. The line 'They say I shot a man named Grey and took his wife to Italy/She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me/I can't help it if I'm lucky' was just so vivid. That was a straight tribute to my love of Dylan."
When the record began selling big, the "Dylan camp" took issue. As Rucker remembers: "they wanted some money, and they got it. We weren't trying to rip anybody off."
For Rucker it was largely an issue of musical genre and the high school group changing his thinking on it:
"I knew the song, and to me it was such a perfect bluegrass tune that I didn't think I could do it. But they did a country version of it, with drums and pedal steel. I was like, 'Wait a minute. That would be a great country song.'"
On deciding to go country with it, Rucker says:
"It's such the perfect country song. When we were cutting it, all we had (to model it on) was this perfect bluegrass song. I couldn't do it as a bluegrass song. It's just not me. So if we were going to do it, we had to make it a 1950s country song. I'm not shocked at how successful it's been, but I didn't expect it."
When asked if he thought his recording would be nominated for a Grammy Award, Rucker responded:
"If ‘Wagon Wheel’ doesn’t get nominated for a GRAMMY, country music is screwed. It’s as simple as that. I’m not saying I should win it, but it should be nominated."
Matt Bjorke of Roughstock gave Rucker's version a five-star rating. Billy Dukes of Taste of Country gave Rucker's version four and a half stars out of five. As to the reaction of the originating group, Rucker says . .
"I'm obviously a risk taker. I left Hootie & The Blowfish to come and play country music, so I'm ok with risks. But, I just loved the song. I just thought it would be a great song to cut. I think the Old Crow Medicine Show guys are very happy about it, and that's all that matters to me."
When asked what he thought of this version of the song, Chris 'Critter' Fuqua of Old Crow Medicine Show replied:
'I love it. He actually played with us at (The Grand Ole) Opry, and it was great. I think he sees something special in that song and understands it. He's a country music fan and, more than that, he just loves music and loves playing. I'm really glad he cut the track. It's been good for him and good for us, but I'm just waiting for the time when people come up to me and say, "I love when you guys played that Darius Rucker cover."'
Rucker's version was nominated as Single of the Year for the 47th Country Music Association Awards along with Florida Georgia Line ("Cruise"), Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift & Keith Urban ("Highway Don't Care"), Miranda Lambert ("Mama's Broken Heart"), and Kacey Musgraves ("Merry Go 'Round"). Rucker closed the televised awards show with the song November 6, 2013. On December 6, 2013, it was announced that Rucker's version of Wagon Wheel earned him a nomination for Best Country Solo Performance for the upcoming 56th Annual Grammy Awards. Other nominees up for the same award are Lee Brice for I Drive Your Truck, Hunter Hayes for I Want Crazy, Miranda Lambert for Mama's Broken Heart and Blake Shelton for Mine Would Be You.
Rucker's "Wagon Wheel" debuted at number 51 on the U.S. Billboard Country Airplay chart for the week of January 19, 2013. It also debuted at number 32 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for the week of January 26, 2013. It debuted at 96 on the U.S. Billboard Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week of February 6, 2013; it debuted at 72 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart for the week of February 13, 2013. In its 10th chart week, March 20, 2013, Rucker's version made "a strong move" on Hot Country Songs, going from 11 to 5, and to 18 on Country Airplay (to 14.7 million, up 20%). Old Crow's original (from 2004) sold 15,000 and ranked 28 on Country Digital Songs the same week. The song reached number one on Hot Country Songs in its 12th week. It is his most successful song as a solo artist on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 15. As of December 2013, the song has sold 2,438,000 copies in the United States.
Charts and certifications
"Sure Be Cool If You Did"
by Blake Shelton
|Billboard Hot Country Songs
April 13, 2013
by Florida Georgia Line
"Get Your Shine On"
by Florida Georgia Line
|Billboard Country Airplay
June 1–8, 2013
"Highway Don't Care"
by Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift
|Billboard Canada Country
June 1–8, 2013
"Boys 'Round Here"
by Blake Shelton
- "in that it has become a bar room staple that drunks love to loudly request at every show, regardless of who the band is"
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- Old Crow Medicine Show official webpage.
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- Dearmore, Kelly (29 November 2012). "Old Crow Medicine Show's Christopher "Critter" Fuqua On Getting Sober, Bob Dylan As a Gateway Drug". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
- Dauphin, Chuck (10 September 2013). "CMA Awards 2013: Full Nominees List". Billboard. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
- "Canadian single certifications – Old Crow Medicine Crow – Wagon Wheel". Music Canada. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
- Matt Bjorke (March 27, 2013). "Country Chart News - The Top 30 Digital Singles: The Week of March 27, 2013: Darius Rucker "Wagon Wheel" #1: Blake Shelton #2; Justin Moore "Point At You" Highest Debut". Roughstock. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
- Conaway, Alanna (July 11, 2012). "Darius Rucker’s New Album Will Feature ‘Wagon Wheel’ Duet With Lady Antebellum". Taste of Country. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
- Talbott, Chris (24 May 2013). "Darius Rucker rides 'Wagon Wheel' to top of charts". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- Stromblad, Cory. "Darius Rucker Inspired to Record ‘Wagon Wheel’ in Unlikely Place". Taste of Country. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
- Greene, Andy (19 July 2013). "Darius Rucker on 'Wagon Wheel' and the Future of Hootie 'We'll do another record and another big tour'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
- "Darius Rucker On ‘Wagon Wheel’: ‘If It Doesn’t Get a GRAMMY Nomination Country Music Is Screwed’". radio.com. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- Dukes, Billy (December 17, 2012). "Darius Rucker, ‘Wagon Wheel’ – Song Review". Taste of Country. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- Dauphin, Chuck (7 April 2013). "Darius Rucker Hosts ACM Golf Classic, Talks Surprise No. 1 Single: 'I'm a Risk Taker'". billboard. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- Vinson, Christina (6 November 2013). "Darius Rucker Closes Out 2013 CMA Awards With ‘Wagon Wheel’". Taste of Country. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
- "Chart Highlights: Rolling Stones Debut On Dance/Club Play Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
- "Country Songs Week of January 26, 2013". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
- "The sibling trio launches its new single at No. 23. Plus, Darius Rucker storms the top five and Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift's new duet soars". billboard. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- Bjorke, Matt (2013-12-04). "Country Chart News - The Top 30 Digital Singles - December 4, 2013: Florida Georgia Line Dominate Top 5 & Top 30 Chart". Roughstock.
- "Darius Rucker Album & Song Chart History" Canadian Hot 100 for Darius Rucker.
- "Darius Rucker Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Canada Country for Darius Rucker.
- "Darius Rucker Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Darius Rucker.
- "Darius Rucker Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Country Airplay for Darius Rucker.
- "Darius Rucker Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Darius Rucker.
- "Canadian single certifications – Darius Rucker – Wagon Wheel". Music Canada.
- "American single certifications – Darius Rucker – Wagon Wheel". Recording Industry Association of America. July 17, 2013. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH