how many cover versions of “Wagon Wheel” are there?
The answer to that question is clearly “not enough”.
Feeling like Rip Van Winkle, a few weeks ago my kid came into the office and asks if I ever heard the Against Me version of “Wagon Wheel” and I just looked back at him with a dumb look on my face. I’d never heard of either the band or the song and so he played the Butch Vig-produced track for me. Halfway through I looked up and said “hey dude…this is a Dylan thing” and he corrected me.
I know I probably don’t have to tell you, but it sort of was started by Dylan as a chorus for a song that comes from an outtake of the soundtrack for the film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Along comes Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show who wrote verses for the song around Dylan’s original chorus and transforms it from “Rock Me Mama” to “Wagon Wheel”. (Thank you Wikipedia.)
A few days after hearing Against Me, I was at the Clearwater Festival out in the Hudson Valley when The Felice Brothers did a heck of a cover. And then a couple weeks later, some local buskers performed it over at our coffee shop and the next thing you know, I’m hearing it everywhere. By everybody. I even bought the OCMS track from Amazon or iTunes because I’d already traded in the CD without uploading it…didn’t knock me out at the time I guess.
If you search “wagon wheel” on Yahoo Video, you get 7.810 hits and outside of a few that are actually of wagon wheels rollin’ down a trail, most are lo-fi home-made You Tube videos of the song, done in every style and every setting imaginable. I know because I’ve spent all day (well not all) watching them and I’m numb.
High school talent shows, church services, one man bands, coffee shops, outdoor festivals, bluegrass, folk, punk, Scottish pipes of some sort. friends, relatives, fathers and daughters. This song has become more popular to sing than “Take Me Out To The Ballpark”. And how could I possibly have missed this cultural phenomenon? Do y’all know about this? Am I that out of it?
I have become obsessed lately of clicking through tons of You Tube videos of songs I know, done by people I don’t. We are surrounded by so much talent and I think it’s great that we have such an easy way to share our individual creations. On the flip side, not everybody is good. Many people can’t play that well, certainly can’t carry a tune, and how hard is it to figure out that the sound quality is so muddy that maybe you should just do it all over again?
So …”Wagon Wheel”. You might ask me if I found a gem while sifting through all those videos. And I’d say I had a very enjoyable time doing it and found some I liked more than others. Which brings me to these two unknown sisters. (I think one is named Chelsea.)
As you’ll see, this is not a professional group or session. It’s just two women having what looks like a pretty good time. I like the expressions on their faces, and how they sing in that close harmony style unique to family members. They’ve probably have been performing since they were little kids…dressing up, standing in front of the mirror, maybe talking some lessons. I’m guessing, but whatever.
They aren’t twins…one is two years older than the other. Their video has been viewed…get ready for this…19, 215 times. I know that doesn’t compare to the couple of million views that OCMS got on the original, but think about it: two sisters sitting in their living room doing this totally budget production. They can post this, share it with their family and friends and over time, other people find it. And if they like it, they’ll share it.
Well…I just find it all fascinating. And refreshing. Here you go: