and free my soul
I want to get lost in your rock n' roll
and drift away...
All I've got to do is hum that chorus and my feet start tappin' and my soul starts liftin'. But I always wondered about one thing. It's very clearly a country song—maybe that's just the context I heard it in, or the context of the versions I knew: Dobie Gray, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, Garth Brooks—but the lyrics, also very clearly, say rock n' roll. For years it stayed one of those weird discrepancies people of my generation (i.e., who grew up without YouTube or Wikipedia or any such) learned to live with.
Turns out Drift Away (written by Mentor Williams) may have been famous by Dobie Gray—his version stole the show in 1973—but the original was recorded in 1972 by John Henry Kurtz—and that version totally does sound rock n' roll-ish.
This song has been covered a lot (I mean, Michael Bolton? Really?), and most versions have the Dobie Gray country feel, but I managed to find two that (sort of) don't... And I'm not talking light-weights, either. The first is by none other than the Rolling Stones, an unreleased version that does not include Keith Richards in the line-up—which might explain the odd, not-quite-Rolling-Stone sound:
And to challenge that, we have another group of legends: Ringo Starr, Tom Petty, and Alanis Morissette, and Steve Tyler, with an arrangement that, to me at least, sounds straight-up Ringo (not a bad thing):
What do you think? Which version do you like better? Did the gritty uniformity of the Stones win you over, or did you prefer the color lent by the eclectic vocal choices of the Ringo version? Looking forward to your feedback! I'll be back next Wednesday to tally up the votes, cast my own, and tell you how it all went down.
In the meantime, hop on over to these blogs where more epic Battles are being fought. As always, much gratitude to host Stephen T. McCarthy for keeping the Battle hop not just going but roaring. (And yet, yes, we do miss you, FAE.)