The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


May 23, 2013

Darius Rucker rides 'Wagon Wheel' to top of charts


Dylan didn't claim authorship of the song. He cited Arthur Crudup's "Rock Me, Mama," but Crudup said he got the song from Big Bill Broonzy, who recorded it as "Rock Me Baby." Broonzy didn't claim ownership either and the trail dissolves there, lost to history.

A few months after first hearing "Rock Me, Mama," Secor was away from his native Virginia attending school in New Hampshire and feeling homesick for the South. He sat down and wrote a song about hitchhiking his way home full of romantic notions put in his head by the Beat poets and, most of all, Dylan.

"I listened to Bob Dylan and nothing else," Secor said. "Nothin' but Bob for four years. It was like schooling. Every album and every outtake of every album and every live record I could get my hands on and every show I could go see live. I was a teenager who was really turned on to Bob."

The song was an early entry in the group's catalog when it formed a few years later and was officially released twice, on an early EP and on its second album, 2004's "O.C.M.S." The song's popularity grew with each live show as fans enthusiastically sang along with that catchy chorus and with each fan video posted on the Internet. In the-little-engine-that-could style it attained gold status in November 2011, seven years after it became available digitally.

The story gets better. Over the next 13 months the song would go platinum as the band gained more popularity, thanks to years of hard work on the road, championed by Mumford & Sons and Rucker's decision to cover "Wagon Wheel," and has now up to 1.2 million copies sold and counting. Combining sales for Rucker and Old Crow's version, that's nearly 2.5 million copies sold.

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