Drift Away

Album: Drift Away (1973)
Charted: 5

Songfacts®:

  • 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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sara - Silver Spring, MD
  • 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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Gene - Hammond, IN
  • 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.

    His record of 30 years, two months and one week was broken in 2018 by Andy Williams. The late crooner had a gap of 47 years, eight months and three months between his two visits to the upper reaches of the chart with "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" in 2018 and "(Where Do I Begin) Love Story" in 1971.
  • 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 was #1 for 28 weeks in 2003-04 on the Adult Contemporary chart, breaking the record for the longest run atop the tally. It held the record for 15 years until Maroon 5's "Girls Like You" ruled for a 29th week on the listing dated July 6, 2019.
  • 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."

Comments: 29

  • Steven Mcguire Sr from Orem, UtahIt should be pointed out that while Reggie Young played the iconic guitar intro and fills in the 1973 hit 'Drift Away' it was session guitarist Troy Seals who played the great tasteful and bright Telecaster licks during the chorus. Troy deserves credit for his great contributions to the hit 'Drift Away' which we all enjoy!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 12th 1973, Dobie Gray performed "Drift Away" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #5 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart and that would also be its peak position on the chart...
    {See the third post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 25th 1965, Dobie Gray performed "The 'In' Crowd" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Nine months earlier on January 3rd, 1965 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #79; and on February 14th, 1965 it peaked at #13 {for 1 week} and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    Just missed making Billboard's R&B Top 10 chart; it peaked at #11...
    Was his second biggest hit on the Top 100 after "Drift Away"; which reached #5 {for 1 week} on May 6th, 1973.
  • George from Vancouver, CanadaI like Uncle Cracker's version better
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 18th 1973, "Drift Away" by Dobie Gray entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #85; and on May 6th it peaked at #5 (for 1 weeks) and spent 21 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 4 of those 21 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    It reached #7 in Canada and #42 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    In 2003 Uncle Kracker covered it; his version peaked at #9 on the Top 100, but on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks charts on June 1st, 2003 it reached #1 and remained in the top spot for an amazing 28 non-consecutive weeks ("Forever and for Always" by Shania Twain ended its run)
    R.I.P. Mr. Gray, born Lawrence Darrow Brown, (1940 - 2011).
  • Dave from Cape Town, South AfricaI was the drummer in the band backing Dobie in South Africa. What a great guy, what a great tour. Fond memories still prevail, God bless you Dobie.
  • Michael from Mcfarland, WiThe flip of this single "City Stars" is also an excellent number.
  • Brad from Barry, TxAn incredible song by an incredible voice. "Drift Away" is always one of my demo songs when testing out a new MP3 player and/or headphones. Mr. Gray's version of "Loving Arms" is also unbelievable.
  • Kelly from Pretoria, South AfricaI attended my first concert at which Dobie Gray performed on a double header with the Main Ingredient. This was in 1974 before a segregated audience in South Africa.He was backed by an incredible local band called Redlum.(Ironically, they were an all white band).Amazing live performance and a superb artist.Certainly my favourite song of his.
  • Ron from Sioux Falls S.d., SdA melody you can truly loose yourself in...
  • N.i. from Baltimore, MdThe song has always struck me as sounding like a prayer, only instead of being addressed to God, it's addressed to rock 'n' roll.
  • Mike from Victoria, B.c., CanadaI've been told (I don't know if it's true !)that The Rolling Stones version of this song was recorded with some or all of The Beatles ! (At least in one recording.)
  • Bess from San Diego, CaThis is one of my "theme songs." Totally awesome. HOW CAN IT BE ABOUT DRUGS? To me, it's a tribute to all the great rockers of the 60's and 70's. I just LOVE this song.
  • Chris from Auburn, WaThis is one of those songs that can make you stop whatever you're doing just so you can listen. Dobie's amazing voice and those simple, but meaningful, lyrics combined to create a true classic.
  • Lex from Singapore, SingaporeIt's the ultimate ode to "The Band". Groupies have their Tiny Dancer, bands have Drift Away.
  • Kevin from San Jose, CaThis song is absolutley NOT about drugs (for once). It's about a guy paying tribute to his guitar/music.
  • Bambi from Middlefield, Ohthis song is about drug addiction
  • Allan from Vanderhoof, CanadaAnother cover version of this one I like is by The Nylons, a Canadian a cappella group. Sounds very good with just a drum machine and the voices.
  • Jack from Monmouth, NjSteppenwolf's John Kay does a version, it's pretty good.
  • Tj from Woodbridge, Vauncle kracker did an awsome version of this song.
  • Maya from Cal, United Statesi think the stones did an awesome version of it.. u cant even compare that to the uncle kracker version
  • Tomcat from Richmond, VaHave never heard the Rolling Stones version. Definitely WOULD NOT WANT TO HEAR A BOLTON VERSION! Uncle Kracker's version is not bad, but there is nothing like the original from Dobie. Only thing I misheard in the lyrics, was that I thought he was paying tribute to the California surf band the beach boys.
  • Steve from Raynham, MaHave you ever heard the stones do this song? Mick Jaggar's vocals are amazing on it.
  • Paul from London, EnglandThis song was also covered by Michael Bolton back in the early nineties. It's a fantastic song that singers like me can get a great deal of emotion out of. This should be remembered as one of the all-time greats.
  • Tyler from Nashville, InThis is a really good song, I especially like the Uncle Kracker remake. This was played at my Aunt's 2nd wedding. Very nice. Kudos to Dobie Gray and Uncle Kracker.
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiasong was used in a tv commercial here in Australia for a chocolate of the same name
  • Lisa from A Town In, PaI just heard in an interview with Uncle Kracker that this song was originally written for Elvis. Elvis turned it down once he heard Dobie Gray's version of it. Dobie Gray was a demo singer in Memhpis at the time.
  • Lisa from A Town In, PaUncle Kracker redid this song. It's a pretty good remake.
  • Gene from Hammond, InFrom the same interview with Dobie Gray, I forgot to add that his favorite misheard lyric to the songs' chorus line was: "Gimme a beatin' boys..."
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