"Drift Away" is a song by Mentor Williams written in 1970 and originally recorded by John Henry Kurtz on his 1972 album Reunion. Mentor Williams was a country songwriter, and John Henry Kurtz was an actor and swamp rock singer. It was later given to soul singer Dobie Gray and guitarist Greg Reilly for whom it became a surprise international hit; and the best known version. In 1973 the song became Dobie Gray's biggest hit, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and certified gold by the RIAA. It was the final pop hit for Decca Records in the United States.
|Single by Dobie Gray|
|from the album Drift Away|
|Format||7" (45 rpm)|
|Dobie Gray singles chronology|
A new version by Uncle Kracker, with Gray, became a major hit in 2003.
Chart performance (Dobie Gray)Edit
Narvel Felts versionEdit
|Single by Narvel Felts|
|from the album Drift Away|
|B-side||"Foggy Misty Morning"|
|Narvel Felts singles chronology|
A country version was recorded by Narvel Felts in 1973. Felts' version — which changed the lyrics "I wanna get lost in your rock and roll" to "I wanna get lost in your country song" — peaked at #8 on the Billboard' Hot Country Singles chart in mid-August 1973, about three months after Gray's version reached its popularity peak. This song marked Narvel's first success in the country scene, as he was known from the late 1950s as a rockabilly singer.
Chart performance (Narvel Felts)Edit
|Chart (1973)||Peak |
|Canadian RPM Country Tracks||48|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles||8|
Michael Bolton versionEdit
|Single by Michael Bolton|
|from the album Timeless: The Classics|
|Michael Bolton singles chronology|
Michael Bolton covered "Drift Away" in 1992. The single was released from the LP Timeless: The Classics. His rendition became the only hit version of the song in the United Kingdom, where it reached #18. The song also charted in Ireland and New Zealand.
|New Zealand (RIANZ)||23|
Uncle Kracker featuring Dobie Gray versionEdit
|Single by Uncle Kracker featuring Dobie Gray|
|from the album No Stranger to Shame|
|Released||March 17, 2003|
|Uncle Kracker featuring Dobie Gray singles chronology|
A cover version was released by Uncle Kracker in 2003 from his album No Stranger To Shame. This version, which featured Dobie Gray singing the bridge and joining Uncle Kracker on the final verse, reached #9 on the Hot 100. It spent a record-setting 28 weeks atop the adult contemporary chart in the U.S. It also peaked at #25 on the New Zealand Singles chart.
The music video was directed by Bronston Jones. Filmed in Kracker's hometown of Detroit, it shows him performing the song on stage to an audience (Dobie, during his parts, comes in to perform) and Kracker working at a garage (owned by his brother), unloading and stacking tires. Scenes also feature him walking alone on snowy railroad tracks, and singing on an empty stage in the garage. His mechanic's uniform is labeled "Matt," a reference to his real first name, Matthew.
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||25|
|US Billboard Hot 100||9|
|US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)||1|
|US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)||2|
|US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)||10|
Other cover versionsEdit
"Drift Away" has also been covered by many bands and vocalists around the world. Versions include those of Uncle Kracker, Allan Clarke, Roy Orbison, Ike & Tina Turner, Humble Pie, Mud, Rod Stewart, James Hollis, Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles, The Doobie Brothers, the Neville Brothers, Jon Bon Jovi, Copperhead, Christian Kane, the Rolling Stones, the Nylons, Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen, BoDeans, Judson Spence, Billy Joe Royal, Steve Young and John Kay. Folk singer Tom Rush recorded the song on his album What I Know, released in 2009.
The Rolling Stones recorded a cover of the song during the sessions for their It's Only Rock 'n Roll LP in 1974, but it did not appear on the finished album. The Heptones recorded a reggae version which is included on many compilation CDs. Street Corner Symphony also sang a version of this song as their swan song on the season 2 finale of the NBC series The Sing-Off; that version is arranged by Deke Sharon. Bon Jovi usually played the song live in 1987: a version was recorded as part of a Westwood One radio live series concert. Dolly Parton and Anne Murray performed the song together in 1976 on Parton's variety show Dolly!, though they sang the lyrics of the Felts below-referenced version ("I want to get lost in your country song").
Garth Brooks for the 2013 Blue-Eyed Soul album in the Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences compilation.
Country music star, Lynn Anderson (who was the partner of Mentor Williams who wrote the song), recorded a gospel version that was rewritten by Williams for her 2015 gospel album, Drift Away, which would become her final album.
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