7 responses to “Confession Time: Why I Hate “Wagon Wheel””

  1. oh hi

    I have never understood this song, and this analysis made me grin. the line about dying in Raleigh always seemed so random to me, but I liked it. the song doesn’t say, but I had kind of assumed the dogwood- and geography-challenged protagonist meets up with the girl there. and then if he dies, he dies free. (who knows or cares why.)

  2. Rick

    I like a good lyrical analysis of a song an all, but I hope this is meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek. I mean, it’s a song, it’s not a geography or botany lesson! Songs can make you think, but I’d wager that if you talked to most songwriters, they’d say that their songs are designed to make their audiences FEEL. Two different things.

    On the other hand, my big problem with it, is how much Ketch looks like Jim Carrey in the video.

  3. Stu

    I always liked delving into the lyrics of songs as well, so it’s interesting to hear your interpretation(s). I always thought the Johnson city line was a bit odd as well btw. On the other hand there are 30-50 species of Dogwood according to Wikipedia and the Flowering Dogwood looks like it wood make a pretty little bouquet (note the little green stems to the flowers in the pic on the right): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornus_florida

    I take the line about dying in Raleigh (where his girl is, right?) to be about settling down with said girl rather than ‘dying without any kind of human connection’. He’s grown tired of rambling and is heading back where his heart is. It’s a common enough realisation to make.

    Which, for the fun of it, brings us to Johnson City. Or doesn’t, hopefully. I looked at a map. IF you’re heading to Raleigh from Roanoke surely you could be headed south on Int 77 looking to turn off through Greensboro so it wouldn’t be [i]too much[/i] of a stretch to get picked up by a trucker headed ‘west from the Cumberland Gap’ especially if he has to make deliveries in Asheville and Johnson City before he heads further west. So ‘West from the Cumberland Gap’ is his destination rather than where he is hailing from. Who knows.

    I always liked the metaphor of the fiddler becoming a banjo player and going back to his girl. He’s making a decision which affirms his ‘human connection’. The fiddler leads the tune, usually, whereas a banjo player in a string band would tend to accompany it.

    them’s my thoughts anyways.

  4. phil

    I know this thread’s old, but I just ran across it. Great hater review! Gave me a great laugh. I still love the song though (lyrics aren’t all folk songs are about).

    Re: trucking regulations, Cumberland Gap now has a tunnel going under the gap itself, w/ a new haz-mat restriction on truckers. But I don’t think it really matters, as it is not only west of Johnson City but is also really out of the way. A truck going from Phily through Roanoke to Johnson City wouldn’t have much reason north and west to Cumberland Gap, nor to be south of Roanoke at all. Not to mention that Roanoke is pretty far out of the way from New England to Raleigh.

    I think all this is really explained, though, by the “nice long toke” of the previous line. So the point is mute.

    Also: my understanding is that they actually paid Dylan for the rights to the song and then reworked it. It is often cited as a co-write.

    The larger point about The Weight, though, I’ve got to hand to you.