Drift Away: The Timeless Song That Keeps on Giving
Drift Away is a song that has been recorded by many artists over the years, but it was originally written by Mentor Williams in 1970 and first performed by John Henry Kurtz, an actor and swamp rock singer. The song is about the power of music to soothe the soul and help one escape from the troubles of life. The chorus goes: “Give me the beat boys and free my soul / I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away”.
The most famous and successful version of Drift Away was by Dobie Gray, a soul singer who released it as a single in 1973. It reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold by the RIAA. It was also the final pop hit for Decca Records in the United States. Gray’s rendition of Drift Away has been praised for its smooth vocals and catchy melody, and has become a classic of soft rock and soul genres.
Drift Away has been covered by hundreds of other artists, including Narvel Felts, who changed the lyrics to “I wanna get lost in your country song” and had a #8 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1973; Michael Bolton, who included it on his 1992 covers album Timeless: The Classics and reached #18 in the United Kingdom; and Uncle Kracker, who featured Dobie Gray on his 2003 version that broke the record for the longest #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, staying there for 28 weeks.
Drift Away is a song that has transcended time and genres, appealing to different generations and audiences with its universal message of finding joy and peace in music. It is a song that celebrates the power of rock and roll to heal and inspire, and invites listeners to join in the chorus and drift away.
One of the reasons why Drift Away has been so popular and enduring is that it reflects the personal experiences of its writer and performers. Mentor Williams, the songwriter, was a country musician who struggled to make it in the industry and often felt frustrated and disillusioned. He wrote Drift Away as a way of expressing his love for music and his desire to escape from reality. He later said that the song was “a tune of desperation, disguised by a feel-good track”.
Dobie Gray, the singer who made Drift Away a hit, also had a difficult career path. He was born into a poor family in Texas and faced racial discrimination and violence. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue his musical dreams, but had to work as a waiter and a cashier to make ends meet. He recorded several songs in different genres, but none of them were successful. He was about to give up on music when he heard Drift Away and decided to record it. The song changed his life and gave him a new sense of purpose and direction.
Uncle Kracker, the rapper who revived Drift Away in 2003, was also a fan of Dobie Gray and his version of the song. He grew up listening to rock and roll and country music, and was influenced by artists like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams Jr. He wanted to pay tribute to Drift Away and its message of finding solace in music. He contacted Dobie Gray and asked him to sing on his cover. Gray agreed and was impressed by Uncle Kracker’s respect and enthusiasm. The two became friends and performed the song together on several occasions.