"Sweet Amarillo" dates to 1973, but wasn't popularized until Old Crow Medicine Show released their version in 2014.
It was written by Donna Weiss, a songwriter who had a few minor hits under her belt ("That Kind Of Woman" for Merrilee Rush (1968), "Turn Around And Love You" for Rita Coolidge), and sang backup for Bob Dylan. She was part of the sessions for Dylan's 1973 Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
soundtrack album; Dylan sang 26 seconds of the song that were recorded and tucked away in his archives, but another singer on the session, Brenda Patterson, was the first to record the full song
, releasing it on her 1974 album Like Good Wine
. Weiss also performed it several times during Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue tour
in 1975 and 1976.
In 2004, Old Crow Medicine Show heard a different outtake from the Pat Garrett
sessions called "Rock Me, Mama," which Dylan wrote. They turned that song into "Wagon Wheel
" and released it in 2004; it has since become a modern bluegrass classic and a #1 Country hit for Darius Rucker.
Dylan was thrilled to have one of his outtakes from 1973 reworked into a popular song decades later, so he had his manager send Old Crow Medicine Show another one to work with: those 26 seconds of "Sweet Amarillo." Again, Old Crow Medicine Show completed the song, not knowing it wasn't written by Dylan and had already been released by Brenda Patterson.
"I was working with about 26 seconds in which there's a lot of giggling in the background and it just sounds like a pretty high time down in Monterey, or Durango, or wherever they are making this Western movie," the band's frontman, Ketch Secor, explained to The Associated Press.
Old Crow Medicine Show issued it on their album Remedy
, incorrectly crediting it to Bob Dylan. When that mistake was rectified, their version was credited to Donna Weiss along with band members Secor and Critter Fuqua.
As for Weiss, she co-wrote some even bigger hits after touring with Dylan, including "Bette Davis Eyes
" for Kim Carnes and "The Heart Won't Lie," a duet by Reba McEntire and Vince Gill.