By Kurt Wolff
After his composition “Wagon Wheel” hit No. 1 on the country charts recently, Bob Dylan was obviously pleased with the way things turned out. So he provided Old Crow Medicine Show — the group that first cut it — with another “scrap” of a song that they could try recording.
The result is “Sweet Amarillo,” and it appears on Old Crow Medicine Show’s brand-new album Remedy, which was just released this past Tuesday (July 1).
Today (July 3), the band released a music video for “Sweet Amarillo,” perhaps the next song in the band’s catalog to capitalize on a Dylan co-writing credit.
“Wagon Wheel” was originally written and recorded by Dylan under the title “Rock Me Mama.” Old Crow Medicine Show recorded a new version of the song in 2004, with new verses written around Dylan’s original chorus; then Darius Rucker recorded a version and took it to the top of the country charts. Rucker’s version went on to win a GRAMMY this year.
In an interview with CMT, Old Crow Medicine Show bandleader Secor explained how the group came to record another Dylan song, “Sweet Amarillo,” for their new album Remedy.
Dylan, he said, was thrilled with the attention “Wagon Wheel” received. “We got an email from Bob Dylan’s manager saying congratulations right around the time Darius Rucker had a No. 1 single with ‘Wagon Wheel.’ It’s not every day that country music recognizes this great pioneer and huge influence, Bob Dylan. Bob doesn’t have many No. 1 songs in any genres. So it was a big deal to get one.”
Secor said that after the note from Dylan’s camp, “a couple of weeks later, he sent a demo and said, ‘Here’s a song that I never really finished. It was recorded a few days after “Rock Me Mama.” Give it a try. We’d like the boys, the Old Crows to give it whirl.'”
That song turned out to be “Sweet Amarillo.”
“It’s quite amazing to me,” Secor said of getting another chance at a Dylan song. “Bob very much cleaned out his dresser drawer and found a scrap and said [in a Dylan voice], ‘Here, try this.’ Just to hear that is the stuff that dreams are made of. I couldn’t even write a script. The audience wouldn’t believe it. ‘Oh, yeah, then Bob Dylan called and said, OK, finish this song now.'”
Secor said he then finished the song with Old Crow Medicine Show and sent it back to Dylan. “He said, ‘Hey, that sounds great, but I think Ketch should play the fiddle, not the harmonica, and I think the chorus needs to come in at the eighth bar, not the 16th.’ We did exactly what Bob said, and it’s like the song sprouted wings and flew.”
“Sweet Amarillo” is on Old Crow Medicine Show’s new album Remedy, which is in in stores now. The group is currently on tour through North America and Europe.