August 19

Wagon Wheel vs Freebird

As one who has spent a fair amount of time listening to kids sing at summer camps and in large groups over the past few years I’ve been surprised how frequently I hear the Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor song Rock Me Mama. Among teens it’s known as Wagon Wheel, made popular by Darius Rucker in 2013. It’s become the go-to campfire song among teens along with the iconic John Denver song, Country Roads. I read recently that hipster clubs and some music festivals have started posting signs banning Wagon Wheel from being played because it’s so overplayed.

But it was when one writer proclaimed that Wagon Wheel is the Millenials’ equivalent of Freebird that I really understood why I was hearing it so frequently. Then I looked on Pinterest and there are hundreds of Wagon Wheel-themed decor items you can make or purchase. I ever discovered that Wagon Wheel tattoos are a thing.

Listen. I know zero about music. Seriously. But I did grow up in the 70s and went to a lot of rock concerts back in the day. Freebird has different tempos, infectious beats and solos that make anyone want to play the air guitar. Even Springsteen’s Born in the USA is a more robust generational anthem than Wagon Wheel. Wagon Wheel is catchy for sure but I can’t imagine the Millenial masses holding up their lighters for an encore. And we really need to address the geographical error in the lyrics that Johnson City is NOT west of Cumberland Gap. The world is full of complex problems, danger and divisiveness but all you Millenials need to up your game if you’re looking for a generational theme song. Ask Adele. She should be able to come up with something more inspiring than “If I die in Raleigh at least I will die free” whatever that means.