So there we were at the regular Irish music session at O’Donnell’s pub in Douglas. They say to Donald “Give us a song…” He says “Well, I got one here that I’d really like to sing. I’m pretty sure you don’t know it, and I may forget some words, but it’s a great song. It’s called…”
And when he told us the title of the song, I said “If you forget the words, I’ll help.” I played along through the first two verses, then grabbed my camera and recorded the last couple of minutes. Note that the flute and accordion players had never heard the song before.
This is what happens when you start to think you know how the musical world is ordered, and which bits go where. The musical angels, they consider that a dare – so they just whip around and drop something where you least expect it.
For those not familiar with this song (“Wagon Wheel”), it was partially written by Bob Dylan and made famous by a band called the Old Crow Medicine Show. It’s all about a guy hitchhiking out of New England (“Lost my money playing poker so I had to up and leave”) to get to North Carolina. It’s so well-known and well established among the southern acoustic guitar crowd that a lot of the more “serious” musicians refuse to play it (their loss). The boys and I played it at their cousin Sarah’s wedding. I heard a busker on Biltmore Avenue in Asheville sing it and almost bring tears to a guy’s eyes.
Here’s Old Crow Medicine Show doing the song at the Orange Peel in Asheville, where it’s practically the national anthem. For a few minutes there tonight, I felt much closer to Asheville than the physical distance.