G.O.A.T.: DRIFT AWAY by John Henry Kurt (1972)/Dobie Gray (1973)

THE GREATEST OF ALL TUNES (G.O.A.T.) is a salute to the greatest songs of all time, one song per artist.  Want more?  Go to the G.O.A.T. Page for all the GOATs so far!

dobie gray“Gimme a beat, free my soul, I wanna get lost in the rock and roll and drift away…”

It’s a line made for AM radio in the 1970s, and that’s where you’d find it.  Twice.

This blog feature is a tricky one, because I’ve decided to limit it to one song per performer, at least in the beginning, and sometimes you get songs like this one that were recorded by multiple artists in a close time period.  John Henry Kurtz was the first person to record “Drift Away,” which was written by Mentor Williams (brother of the much-better-known Paul Williams) but a Grammy and Oscar winner in his own right.  Kurtz had one album, Reunion, before he disappeared.  But less than a year later, Dobie Gray made Drift Away a hit.

Then, thirty years later, Uncle Kracker did it again.

It was the biggest hit for both of them, and although both Gray and Kracker had other minor hits, “Drift Away” is the song they are most associated with.  It’s also a little ironic that Uncle Kracker took the name he did, while Dobie Gray was the son of a sharecropper who took his name as a reference to the 1950s milquetoast show, The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis.  I’m sure you could write whole essays on racial weirdness behind that.

Further listening: Dobie did have a few more hits, but none are GOATs.

Covers:Lots. Lots and lots. Including Roy Orbison, Humble Pie, John Kay of Steppenwolf (a personal favorite), Waylon Jennings (another favorite), and so many more! Don’t miss Bruce Springsteen’s version! And I didn’t even include Ike and Tina…But I closed with Dolly and Anne Murray. Delicious 1970s goodness.






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