Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker Version

This is an online fiddle lesson for the Darius Rucker version of "Wagon Wheel."

Click here for the Old Crow Medicine Show veresion

BluegrassDaddy.com is your best source for Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic, Gospel, and Country fiddle lessons!

Genre: Folk, Country
Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Key of A

You may download and use any of the MP3s and tablature for your personal use. However, please do not make them available online or otherwise distribute them.

NOTE: If multiple fiddle lessons and MP3s are loading at once, this page will get slow! I recommend that you refresh the page each time you open a new video or MP3.

Video #1: Here is a video of me playing the Darius Rucker version of "Wagon Wheel."

Video #2: Here is a video of me playing the beginner break for "Wagon Wheel."

Wagon Wheel - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

Wagon Wheel - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

Wagon Wheel - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

Wagon Wheel - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

Wagon Wheel - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

"Wagon Wheel" is a song originally sketched by Bob Dylan. It was later modified by Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show.  Old Crow Medicine Show's version was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in April 2013.  The song has been covered many times, most famously by Darius Rucker in 2013, who made it into a number one Hot Country Songs, and English singer Nathan Carter in 2012.

"Wagon Wheel" is composed of two different parts. The chorus and melody for the song come from a demo recorded by Bob Dylan during the Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid sessions. Although never officially released, the Dylan song was released on a bootleg and is usually named after the chorus and its refrain, "Rock Me Mama." Although Dylan left the song an unfinished sketch, Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show wrote verses for the song around Dylan's original chorus. Secor's additional lyrics transformed "Rock Me Mama" into "Wagon Wheel."

Chris "Critter" Fuqua, school friend and future bandmate, first brought home a Bob Dylan bootleg from a family trip to London containing a rough outtake called "Rock Me, Mama" (from the "Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid" soundtrack sessions) and passed it to Secor. Not "so much a song as a sketch, crudely recorded featuring most prominently a stomping boot, the candy-coated chorus and a mumbled verse that was hard to make out," the tune kept going through Secor's mind. A few months later, while attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, and "feeling homesick for the South," he added verses about "hitchhiking his way home full of romantic notions put in his head by the Beat poets and, most of all, Dylan."

Never officially released, besides the melody, only the chorus (or refrain) comes from the Dylan outtake:

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama anyway you feel
Hey mama rock me
Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a south-bound train
Hey mama rock me

Secor's verses tell "the story of a man who travels from New England, through Philadelphia, PA and Roanoke, VA, down the eastern coast of the United States, ending up in Raleigh, North Carolina where he hopes to see his love." They contain a geographic impossibility: heading "west from the Cumberland Gap" to Johnson City, Tennessee "you'd have to go east." Secor explains: "I got some geography wrong, but I still sing it that way. I just wanted the word 'west' in there. 'West' has got more power than 'east.'" The Dylan outtake, generally titled "Rock Me Mama", came out of recording sessions for the Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid movie soundtrack (1973) in Burbank, California.

source: Wikipedia

Wagon Wheel

Headed down south to the land of the pines
I'm thumbin' my way into North Caroline
Starin' up the road
And pray to God I see headlights
I made it down the coast in seventeen hours
Pickin' me a bouquet of dogwood flowers
And I'm a hopin' for Raleigh
I can see my baby tonight

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama anyway you feel
Hey mama rock me
Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a south-bound train
Hey mama rock me

Runnin' from the cold up in New England
I was born to be a fiddler in an old-time string band
My baby plays the guitar
I pick a banjo now
Oh, the North country winters keep a gettin' me now
Lost my money playin' poker so I had to up and leave
But I ain't a turnin' back
To livin' that old life no more


Walkin' due south out of Roanoke
I caught a trucker out of Philly
Had a nice long toke
But he's a headed west from the Cumberland Gap
To Johnson City, Tennessee
And I gotta get a move on before the sun
I hear my baby callin' my name
And I know that she's the only one
And if I die in Raleigh
At least I will die free

Online Fiddle Lessons Forums Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker Version

Viewing 17 posts - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)
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  • #33971

    One of my favorites!  Outstanding John.


    Nice…another one I oughta learn.  The jams I go to play this one once in a while.


    Beautiful! How much easier is this then the original? I’ve learned exactly 1 1/2 of the fiddle breaks in cross A. The 3rd is really hard 🙂


    Great rendition of this song, John! Thank you!


    You have out done yourself! The singing, the lead fiddle, fiddle back up and the other guy singing harmony. That Was Great, John!


    That other guy was a good singer, wasn’t he, Rock?  I didn’t realize there was another Wagon Wheel lesson already on here too…duh, where have I been? I do need to learn it because it gets played every so often around here.  Now my usual problem…deciding where to start…lol…I think the sawmill tuning one would probably be my best bet!  I love playing the fiddle in that tuning.

    John (BGD)

    Thanks you all. 🙂 Kaeleigh, the Darius Rucker version is easier for me than the original, mostly because I’m not that good at cross A tuning. Give it a try and see!


    That was the best presentation I have seen, WOW!


    As usual , very awesome, almost makes me cry, I m so turned on to this song , I feel like learning it now for sure. Seems like one I could sing too, be nice to bring a singing song to the Sunday Jam and do the fiddling. Just great John, I heard it on the radio just the other day, made me think of you, it s going around this song, I m sure folks around these parts would enjoy it. Thanks again for all the inspiration and hard work you are doing for us.
    Merci beaucoup,

    John (BGD)

    I remember falling in love with this song the first time I heard it. So many things were right about it… It was played in such a retro style, had sentimental lyrics about North Carolina, and had that super-catchy chorus written by Bob Dylan. I knew the minute I heard it that it would be a hit. I love the way the Darius Rucker retains the focus on the fiddle. And what a singer her is — this is one of my all-time favorite fiddle-featuring song.


    Great job on this! I play this at some jams here and your lesson will help me  to change it up some!

    Yes, I like the focus on the fiddle. When this song is done without a fiddle and only guitars and singing,……boring…I think (from one fiddler to other fiddlers).




    John (BGD)

    Thanks Kris. You’re right — the fiddle absolutely makes this song. When the fiddle starts in, you can see the entire crowd light up. Smiles on every face, applause, etc. You don’t get that with the other instruments!


    your version of Wagon wheel doesn’t seem right.  Are you using a different tuning rather than normal.  I’ve found other copies that have the melody on top of the double stopping .  Whilst listening to the song the violin part as done by funky whistle.com seems more accurate.



    John (BGD)

    Juliet, this is the Darius Rucker version, tuned standard. Click below for my lesson on the Old Crow Medicine Show version:


    Ketch Secor’s fiddle in the OCMS version is tuned to AEAE. In the above link, I also include some sheet music in standard tuning that is similar similar to the funky whistle approximation. However, my lesson is for the authentic break.


    You need to add the full sheet music for what you were playing in your first video. not just the intro and breaks. I need to know what you’re playing in between breaks.

    John (BGD)

    Between the breaks you want to fill when there is a gap in the vocals. You can use the sheet music from the breaks, just pick the appropriate measure from the lead breaks and put them in at a lower volume. For example, measures 8-10 or 19-21.

    Or, it works well just to play long bow strokes over two-string chords. Chords are labeled in the tablature:

    A chord: D1/A0
    E chord: D1/A1
    F#m chord: D2/A0
    D chord: D0/A0

    Embellish with some slides between chords and some ornamentation.

    For the outro, just replay one of the breaks or mix and match between the two breaks, for as long as the bandleader wants to keep going. In live versions, this may be a long time!


    This is a great version for us beginners!

Viewing 17 posts - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)
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