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Behind the Song: Darius Rucker’s ‘Wagon Wheel’

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(Courtesy of Capitol Nashville)

(Courtesy of Capitol Nashville)

By Annie Reuter

Darius Rucker has a group of South Carolina teenagers to thank for his GRAMMY-nominated hit “Wagon Wheel.”

“When I heard ‘Wagon Wheel’ at my daughter’s high school talent contest, I don’t know what it was about the song, because I had heard the song before,” he told Radio.com. “When I heard it there I just thought, ‘Man some day I’m going to cut the song for a record.’ It was really one of those lightning bolt things that I can’t even explain.”

While Rucker admits he often says this about many songs, he never actually winds up cutting the track.

“But with that I just really wanted to cut the song. I didn’t know how big it was until after it came out and then I realized on college campuses a lot of people knew it.”

“Wagon Wheel” was originally written by Bob Dylan but never finished. The song was later completed by Old Crow Medicine Show‘s Ketch Secor, who wrote verses around Dylan’s original chorus and released the final product with his band in 2004. In an interview with South Carolina newspaper The Beaufort Gazette, Old Crow Medicine Show founding member Critter Fuqua revealed how the band came to make it their own.

“I’d gotten a Dylan bootleg in like ninth grade and I let Ketch listen to it, and he wrote the verses because Bob kind of mumbles them and that was it,” he said. “We’ve been playing that song since we were like 17, and it’s funny because we’ve never met Dylan, but the song is technically co-written by Bob Dylan.”

Related: Watch Mini-Docs on This Year’s Album of the Year GRAMMY Nominees

Fuqua said the song grew organically without any radio push or music industry tricks. A fan of Rucker’s GRAMMY-nominated version, he said he’s glad the ex-Hootie & the Blowfish frontman cut the track.

“It’s been good for him and good for us, but I’m just waiting for the time when people come up to me and say, ‘I love when you guys played that Darius Rucker cover.’”

Tune in to the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards on January 26 at 8 p.m. on CBS to see if Rucker wins the coveted GRAMMY for Best Country Solo Performance.

(Rick Diamond/Getty Images) BMI’s Clay Bradley, OCMS’s Critter Fuqua and Ketch Secor with Darius Rucker celebrating No.1 song ‘Wagon Wheel’ at Ryman Auditorium (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

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