Wagon Wheel

wagon wheel 1

Wagon Wheel is a song that I really got turned onto a little over a year ago at a wedding reception.  I had heard the song before, but for whatever reason, when I heard it played that night, it really struck me.  I immediately dug a bit deeper into the song and discovered all the information you can read about later in this blog.

wagon wheel 2The song originated from Bob Dylan, which did not surprise me too much since Bob has written so many songs over the years.  He is like the “godfather of songwriting” in my opinion.  This was not even a song Bob wrote it was just some mumblings and picking Bob did in between songs in the studio.  If a song like this one can come out of that, it really demonstrates his true genius.

I love the southern feel that Old Crow Medicine Show gives to the song.  They have just right twang in their voice to just blow the song up.  They took what Bob had started and took it to a whole other planet.  They took the song to a place that Bob never would have.  I just love their version.

My favorite version though has to be the Darius Rucker version.wagon wheel 6  Rucker, being from South Carolina, just brings a personality to the song that is very unique.  His voice was made to do this song and it really shows in his recording and live versions.

This is a song that I learned to play on guitar and I just love doing it.  I’m no Darius Rucker, but I still think I can hold my own.

This song is the perfect melding of blues, bluegrass, gospel, country, and rock n roll in my opinion.  It is an anthem to Americana going to our deepest roots.  It is a song that it seems that people have been singling along to since the very founding of our country.  It is American as apple pie and corn on the cob.  It is just a great song and one of my favorites.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Here is the original bootleg of the recording by Bob Dylan.  You can’t really hear the lines at all.  I guess all songs have to start somewhere.

Official music video of the song performed by Old Crow Medicine Show.  I really love this bluegrass video.  I especially love the old school hand-held mike.

This is a live version of the song performed by Old Crow Medicine Show at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 2005 in the park.  This is an absolutely amazing version.

Live version of the song performed by Old Crow Medicine Show at the Grand Old Opry.

Official music video of the song performed by Darius Rucker with Lady Antebellum doing backing vocals.  I love the appearance of some of the Duck Dynasty gang in the video.

Darius Rucker playing the song live at the Bing Lounge.  Very cool!

Mumford and Sons doing a live onstage version of the song in Bristol.  Great crowd participation.

A much clearer version of the song performed by Mumford and Sons.

Really good cover version of the song by Matt Andersen.


wagon wheel 3Wagon Wheel” 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, Chris Pureka in 2008, Northern Irish singer Nathan Carter in 2012, and by Darius Rucker and Mumford & Sons 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.

“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 wagon wheel 4(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.’

Never officially released, besides the melody, only the chorus (or refrain) comes from the Dylan outtake:

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‘”—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 5Darius 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 sittingwagon wheel 7 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.”

With guidance from Frank Liddell, Rucker cut the song with Lady Antebellum on backing vocals.  He told Taste of Country:

wagon wheel 8“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:

“It never got to the point where we were sued.  We played it for years and had a really big hit with it.  Then they wanted some money, and they got it.  We weren’t trying to rip anybody off.  It was like, ‘If you think that’s the case, sure.”

Rucker discovered the popularity of the song only after recording it himself.  As he describes it:

‘I didn’t know how big it was until after I cut it, until after it was a single.  I didn’t know that every college student south of the Mason-Dixon Line in the last eight years knows this song.  I had no idea.  I thought it was just another Old Crow song until I recorded it and realized it wasn’t just another Old Crow song.’

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.’

“It’s another interesting chapter in the history of a song that’s slowly working its way toward American classic status.  Like ‘House of the Rising Sun‘ or ‘Good Night, Irene,’ it’s now a pop song with a long back story that tantalizingly trickles out before you reach the wellspring.”

Chris Talbott (on Rucker version)

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 of the song has yielded two CMA Award nominations for the 47th Country Music Association Awards ceremony for Single and Song of the Year.

“It sort of exists separately from the world of things that are on the radio.  ‘Wagon Wheel’ has made it around the camp fires and the jam sessions and the parking lot scenes, in a way that songs of this decade or the last decade tend not to.  When you go to a drum circle at a camp fire, you’ll hear songs that are 40 years old that a kid with a hemp leash just learned, like ‘The Weight‘ by The Band, and then you’re going to hear ‘Wagon Wheel.’

Rucker released a music video of the song on March 21, 2013,wagon wheel 9 which features several members of the television show Duck Dynasty, along with Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum.

Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” debuted at number 51 on the U.S. BillboardCountry 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 October 2013, the song has sold 2,317,000 copies in the United States.


Wagon Wheel

By Old Crow Medicine Show and Bob Dylan

Heading down south to the land of the pines
I’m thumbing my way into North Caroline
Staring up the road and pray to God I see headlights

I made it down the coast in sixteen hours
Picking me a bouquet of pretty blue flowers
And I’m a hopin’ for Raleigh, I can see my baby tonight ohhhhhhh yaaaa

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey mama rock me

Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a southbound train
Hey mama rock me

Running from the cold up in New England
I was born to be a fiddler in an old-time string band
My baby plays a guitar, I pick a banjo now

Oh, north country winters keep a getting me
Now I lost my money playing poker so I had to up and leave
But I ain’t turning back to living that old life no more

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey mama rock me

Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a southbound train
Hey mama rock me

Walkin’ to the south out of Roanoke
I caught a trucker out of Philly, had a nice long toke
But he’s a heading west from the Cumberland Gap
To Johnson City, Tennessee

And I gotta get a move on before the sun
I hear my baby calling my name and I know that she’s the only one
And if I died in Raleigh, at least I will die free

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey mama rock me

Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a southbound train
Hey mama rock me

About wmarsau

Most of the people who visit this blog already know me so it is kind of pointless to try to describe my life in this short little blurb. What is the purpose of this blog is the question. Over the course of this last year I have been exposed to some amazing people and have made personal development an important focus of my life. Being successful, not by the world's standards, but by God's has become my main focus. Mainly, I want to work to develop myself as a person who is kinder, reaches out to help those in need, and truly makes a difference in this world. To this end I am constantly reading and am exposed to so many differnet things along the way. These have been amazing and it is helping me grow so much. Then I started to think, "Why am I being so selfish?" You need to share with others these amazing things you are learning and being exposed to. That is where this blog comes into play. As I am reading and experiencing things that are truly amazing and life changing, I will be posting them on this blog. Obviously, I will not be able to post everything in it's entirity, but I will be summarizing them and letting you know the source of the article or book they come from so you can check them out later if you wish. I want this blog to be a place where you can go to often and be inspired and leave here with a smile on your face. I will be covering all kinds of different topics dealing with success and personal development. Topics like taking action, relationships, living to your potential, reinventing yourself, finances, leadership, presenting, goal setting, time management, etc. I will also be occasionally including topics on cooking, music, and gardening because they are special interests of mine. As a little disclaimer, I have given my life to the Lord and he is #1 in my life. I am his servant and everything I do in life is for his glory. With that being said, religion influences all areas of my life. There will be references to God in this blog because I can't seperate God from this or any other area of my life. I want you to know that if you do not believe in God, that is fine. That is your choice. This blog is open to anyone who wants to better their life. I will not be trying to influence or pressure anyone into having a relationship with the Lord from this site. Please don't feel uncomfortable. You can just read the portions of the blog that you wish to. I am inviting you to go on a journey with me. We will learn together to be the kind of people we were designed to be. Anyone can make a difference in this world, but it starts%
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2 Responses to Wagon Wheel

  1. Matt Dunphy says:

    Thank you for this great article. Like Darius’ version best myself. Should be played at all Irish
    weddings and funerals. Was wondering if you ever heard it done in Irish? The kids at Colaiste
    Lurgan provide this: https://youtu.be/m-Xiq3EgSPU

  2. Thank you for this awesome article! I thought you would love to hear this new song by songwriter Joe Crookston. He took all the words from “Wagon Wheel” and RE-arranged them into an entirely new song “Caroline, The Fiddler.” Check it out!

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