Drift Away

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"Drift Away"
Single by Dobie Gray
from the album Drift Away
B-side "City Stars"
Released February 1973
Format 7" (45 rpm)
Genre Rock, soul, soft rock
Length 3:54
Label Decca
Writer(s) Mentor Williams
Producer(s) Mentor Williams
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Dobie Gray singles chronology
"Rose Garden"
"Drift Away"
"Loving Arms"

"Drift Away" is a song written by Mentor Williams and originally recorded by John Henry Kurtz on his 1972 album Reunion. In 1973 the song became Dobie Gray's biggest hit, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and certified gold by the RIAA.[1] It was the final pop hit for Decca Records in the United States.

A new version by Uncle Kracker, with Gray, became a major hit in 2003.

Chart performance (Dobie Gray)[edit]

Chart (1973) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles 7
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 5
U.S. Billboard Hot Soul Singles 42


"Drift Away" has been covered by many bands and vocalists around the world. Versions include those of Allan Clarke, Roy Orbison, Ike and Tina Turner, Humble Pie, Mud, Rod Stewart, Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles, Neville Brothers, Michael Bolton, Jim Hollis, Christian Kane, The Rolling Stones, The Nylons, Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen, Judson Spence, and John Kay.[2] Folk singer Tom Rush recorded the song on his album What I Know, released in 2009. There is an unreleased 1974 recording of this song by The Rolling Stones. This version features all of the members of the then-current lineup of the Stones with the exception of Keith Richards and the addition of keyboardist Nicky Hopkins.[citation needed] The Heptones recorded a reggae version which is included on many compilation CDs. Street Corner Symphony also sang a version of this song as their swan song on the season 2 finale of the NBC series, The Sing-Off; that version is arranged by Deke Sharon.[3] Bon Jovi usually played the song live in 1987: a version was recorded as part of a Westwood One radio live series concert. Dolly Parton and Anne Murray performed the song together in 1976 on Parton's variety show Dolly!, though they sang the lyrics of the Felts version ("I want to get lost in your country song").

Garth Brooks for the 2013 Blue-Eyed Soul album in the Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences compilation.

Temuera Morrison recorded and included Drift Away in his 2014 debut album "Tem".[4]

Country music star, Lynn Anderson (whom was the partner of Mentor Williams who wrote the song), recorded a gospel version that was rewritten by Williams for her 2015 gospel album, Drift Away, which would become her final album.

Narvel Felts version[edit]

"Drift Away"
Single by Narvel Felts
from the album Drift Away
B-side "Foggy Misty Morning"
Released 1973
Format 7" single
Genre Country
Length 3:15
Label Cinnamon
Producer(s) Farah Productions[5]
Narvel Felts singles chronology
"Rockin' Little Angel"
"Drift Away"
"All in the Name of Love"

A country version was recorded by Narvel Felts in 1973. His was a mid-tempo country ballad version, compared to Gray's bluesy rendition. Felts' version — which changed the lyrics "I wanna get lost in your rock and roll" to "I wanna get lost in your country song" — peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard' Hot Country Singles chart in mid-August 1973, about three months after Gray's version reached its popularity peak.[6] This song marked Narvel's first success in the country scene, as he was known from the late 1950s as a rockabilly singer.

Chart performance (Narvel Felts)[edit]

Chart (1973) Peak
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 48
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 8

Uncle Kracker featuring Dobie Gray version[edit]

"Drift Away"
Single by Uncle Kracker featuring Dobie Gray
from the album No Stranger to Shame
Released March 17, 2003
Format CD single
Genre Pop rock, soft rock
Length 4:15
Label Lava
Producer(s) Michael Bradford, Uncle Kracker
Uncle Kracker featuring Dobie Gray singles chronology
"In a Little While"
"Drift Away"
"Memphis Soul Song"

A cover version was released by Uncle Kracker in 2003. This version, which featured Dobie Gray singing the final verse, reached number nine on the Hot 100, one week to the day after Gray's 63rd birthday. It spent a record-setting 28 weeks atop the adult contemporary chart in the U.S. It also peaked at number 25 on the New Zealand Singles chart.

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Bronston Jones.

Chart performance (Uncle Kracker)[edit]

Chart (2003–04) Peak
New Zealand Singles Chart 25
US Billboard Hot 100 9
US Billboard Pop Songs 10
US Billboard Adult Pop Songs 2
US Billboard Adult Contemporary 1
Preceded by
"The Game of Love" by Santana
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
Uncle Kracker featuring Dobie Gray (2003-2004 version)

June 7 - November 8, 2003 (first run)
Succeeded by
"Forever and for Always" by Shania Twain
Preceded by
"Forever and for Always" by Shania Twain"
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
November 22- November 29, 2003 (second run)
Succeeded by
"Forever and for Always" by Shania Twain
Preceded by
"Sending You a Little Christmas" by Jim Brickman / Kristy Starling
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
January 10–17, 2004 (third run)
Succeeded by
"Calling All Angels" by Train
Preceded by
"Calling All Angels" by Train"
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
January 31 - February 7, 2004 (fourth run)
Succeeded by
"Calling All Angels" by Train


  1. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum - November 21, 2010: Dobie Gray certified singles". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 21, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Original versions of Drift Away written by Mentor Williams". SecondHandSongs. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  3. ^ Sharon, Deke; Dietz, Robert (2005). "Drift Away". Modern A Cappella Volume 1 SATB (div). Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 1-423-40048-8. 
  4. ^ Template:Www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/music/63155732/Temuera-Morrison-releases-debut-album
  5. ^ "Narvel Felts - Drift Away / Foggy Misty Morning - ABC - UK - ABC 4119". 45cat. 1976-05-14. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 143. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 

External links[edit]