A new version of “Wagon Wheel” is now out — the third form this simple folk jam has taken. That’s not terribly unusual, but it is interesting that it became popular and well-known before a mainstream artist recorded it.
The song’s grassroots history is part of its appeal. What started off as a catchy chorus deep in Bob Dylan’s head eventually found its way to a demo tape but then went unfinished until Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor rediscovered it and had the audacity to finish it himself — something akin to adding arms to the Venus de Milo. Secor has since said if he hadn’t been a teenager at the time, he probably would not have had the guts to do it.
The band included their version on O.C.M.S., their 2004 album. From there, “Wagon Wheel” grew into a staple of party playlists and cover bands, ultimately earning a platinum certification for the band. For all its singalong success, though, the song never made it into the mainstream until Darius Rucker came along. His new version has been smoothed out a little, but the traveling soul of the track rolls on.
Check out the original music video of “Wagon Wheel” from Old Crow Medicine Show.