Darius Rucker penned every song on his most recent album, Charleston, SC 1966. But when it came time to pick songs for his upcoming CD, True Believers, he knew he wanted to include the song "Wagon Wheel," made famous by Old Crow Medicine Show -- and he has his 17-year-old daughter, Cary, to thank.
"Somebody had played 'Wagon Wheel' for me years ago," Darius explains. "It was one of those things that I didn't really get. So, I'm at my daughter's high school talent show, and I'm sitting 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."
The song, which is based on a portion of the song “Rock Me Mama” written by Bob Dylan and later finished by Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, has been recorded by numerous artists including Little Feat, Jeremy McComb and Mumford & Sons…and can be heard in just about every club in America. You may recall Darius made a surprise appearance with Old Crow Medicine Show at the Grand Ole Opry last July for a special rendition of the song.
Darius knows the tune may be a bit of a gamble, but believes it's worth the risk. "[I texted producer] Frank Rogers, 'Do you know this 'Wagon Wheel' song?'" he recalls. "He's like, 'Yeah. It's by Old Crow Medicine Show. A lot of people have cut it.' I said, 'I don't care! I'm cutting it!' He's like, 'Yeah, dude. We'll try it. We'll cut it.' So I cut it, and it was great after we finished it."
The Hootie & the Blowfish frontman even included some extra star power on his version of the tune. "I asked Lady Antebellum if they would come in and sing on it with me". "I called up Charles [Kelley] and he said yes, and then a couple day 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. That would never happen in pop music ... lawyers would get involved and then either it wouldn't happen or someone would get paid big bucks to sing on 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."
True Believers is for release on January 22nd.