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Album: Drift AwayReleased: 1973Charted:
This was originally sung by John Henry Kurtz, an actor whose 1972 Reunion
album also featured Kenny Loggins and a cover of Loggins' "Danny's Song
Virtuoso guitarist and session man Reggie Young Jr. played on this track, which is known for its distinctive intro. His son, Reggie Young III, told us that his father had to re-learn the signature guitar lines for a live radio broadcast around 1993, when Lonnie Mack did a special out of Nashville and invited several people to perform as guests. Said Young, "Dobie Gray asked my father to join him in playing 'Drift Away' live. This was the first time since 1973 that they had played the song together. In the '80s my father was showing another guitar player how to play the intro to 'Drift Away,' but the other guy said he thought that my father was playing it wrong. In fact he was playing in the wrong key. Also, when this was re-recorded in 1997 for Gray's CD Diamond Cuts, he declined, as he didn't think he could do it any better than he did on the original."
Gray mused in an interview that the song's hook of "Gimme the beat boys and free my soul" has been misheard and incorrectly sung as "Gimme the Beach Boys," "Gimme the wheat boys" (proposed for a cereal commercial), "Gimme the peat moss," and "Gimme the meatballs."
This was written by producer/songwriter Mentor Williams in 1973. Mentor is the brother of Paul Williams
In 2002, Gray recorded this as a duet with Uncle Kracker. When this track reached the Billboard top 10 in 2003, 30 years later, Gray broke the record for the biggest gap between top US top 10 appearances.
This song was not only a commercial breakthrough for Mentor Williams, but also a breakthrough as a recording project. He explained to American Songwriter Magazine March/April 1988: "I think one of the hardest things for me to learn about songwriting was to really expose my feelings and weaknesses and to write personal, emotional things. As soon as I started doing that, I realized other people were relating to my songs. You can study how to write and spend a lot of time writing, but without this emotional content in a song, it's just not there. 'Drift Away' was a big breakthrough for me. It was a song where it suddenly was okay for me to write about being hurt and let people know that I had been hurt and I wasn't afraid to expose my feelings."
The updated version with Uncle Kracker holds the record for the longest run atop the Adult Contemporary chart, having reigned for 28 weeks in 2003-04.
The Rolling Stones recorded this in November 1973 during the sessions for their album It's Only Rock 'n Roll
. This version was never released, but later showed up on YouTube
This has been featured in several movies, including the 1988 comedy Heartbreak Hotel (starring David Keith as Elvis Presley), the 2003 drama Wonderland (starring Val Kilmer), and 2006 sports biopic Invincible (starring Mark Wahlberg). It was also used on The Office (US), in the 2007 episode "Product Recall."