January 28.2014 – The Story Behind “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker

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On Sunday night Darius Rucker won his first Grammy award as a solo artist. The last Grammy he won had been in 1996 with Hootie and the Blowfish. Darius won the Grammy for best country solo performance for his hit single, “Wagon Wheel.”
Unfortunately, Rucker was stuck in traffic and missed the pre-telecast when his award was presented.
Here’s the story behind the Grammy Award winning song! the Grammy for best country solo performance for his hit single, “Wagon Wheel.”

If you’re a hardcore Bob Dylan fan, the new Darius Rucker hit “Wagon Wheel” might sound a little familiar. It’s actually a fleshed-out version of an untitled, unfinished song from the 1973 Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid soundtrack sessions. Dylan fans titled the song “Rock Me, Mama” when the sessions leaked to bootleggers.

Old Crow Medicine Show’s Critter Fuqua picked up a bootleg of the Pat Garrett sessions in the ninth grade when he visited London. “I let [bandmate] 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.”

Old Crow Medicine Show released the song in 2004, splitting the royalties evenly with Dylan. It was later covered by Against Me and many others, but earlier in 2013 Darius Rucker cut the song for his third country album, True Believers. It became a crossover hit, hitting Number One on the Billboard Country Songs chart and number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Forty years ago, Dylan couldn’t possibly have imagined he was working on a future hit song. His career had reached a low point after the commercial failures of 1970’s Self Portrait and New Morning. He spent the next two years largely off the grid, then agreed to take a supporting role in Sam Peckinpah’s 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Dylan’s acting experience was very limited at this point, and the shoot in Durango, Mexico was extremely troubled. The studio ultimately took the film from Peckinpah and recut it, taking out many of Dylan’s scenes.

Dylan had far more control over the film’s soundtrack. He started work on the disc on January 20th, 1973 in Mexico City. The next month he moved over to Burbank, California and brought in Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn, drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Terry Paul. The sessions yielded Dylan’s comeback hit “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and just a few takes after finishing that classic they ran through two versions of “Rock Me, Mama.” It was far from finished, and they soon moved onto the main title track and probably forgot all about the sketch of a song. Somehow or another, the sessions got in the hands of bootleggers and “Rock Me, Mama” began its slow, unlikely journey to the top of the charts as “Wagon Wheel.”
_ Rolling Stone

LYRICS: Written by Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor
Heading down south to the land of the pines
I’m thumbing my way into North Carolina
Staring up the road and pray to God I see headlights
I made it down the coast in seventeen hours
Picking me a bouquet of dogwood flowers
And I’m a-hopin’ for Raleigh, I can see my baby tonight

So rock me momma like a wagon wheel
Rock me momma any way you feel
Hey momma rock me
Rock me momma like the wind and the rain
Rock me momma like a south bound train
Hey momma 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 down
Lost my money playing poker so I had to leave town
But I ain’t turning back to living that old life no more

So rock me momma like a wagon wheel
Rock me momma any way you feel
Hey momma rock me
Rock me momma like the wind and the rain
Rock me momma like a south bound train
Hey momma 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
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 die in Raleigh at least I will die free

So rock me momma like a wagon wheel
Rock me momma any way you feel
Hey momma rock me
Oh, rock me momma like the wind and the rain
Rock me momma like a south bound train
Hey, hey momma rock me

Oh, so rock me momma like a wagon wheel
Rock me momma any way you feel (I wanna feel)
Hey, hey momma rock me (momma rock me, momma rock me)
Rock me momma like the wind and the rain
Rock me momma like a south bound train
(I wanna rock like a south bound train)
Hey momma rock me
Rock me

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About Robynn

Robynn Jaymes has spent her whole life in radio… 30 years!! And almost half of them have been at Star Country. Originally from Cincinnati, Robynn came to the area as a Liberty University student. Along with all things country music, Robynn is a big fan of Football!—The Virginia Tech Hokies, The Washington Redskins and, of course, the Cincinnati Bengals. And also, “I’m addicted to the Weather Channel,” she says. Right now, Robynn is a big fan if the music coming from Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum and Kenny Chesney! Robynn is also a winner of the Billboard Air Personality of the Year award. Hear all new Warm & Fuzzies with Robynn M-F at 11:45AM!

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