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Little-Known Bob Dylan Song From the ’70s Strikes Country Gold

Kevin Winter / Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Who would have guessed that a throwaway track called ‘Rock Me, Mama’ that Bob Dylan wrote for the 1973 ‘Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid’ soundtrack would one day be nominated for a Country Music Awards Single of the Year?

Certainly not Dylan, who tossed it while completing that album four decades ago. The song’s long journey from the cutting-room floor into the hands of Darius Rucker (who used to lead Hootie and the Blowfish) would make for a great Dylan-style narrative.

Rucker has already taken the track, now titled ‘Wagon Wheel,’ all the way to the top of the country charts. This year’s CMAs air live on Nov. 6 on ABC.

Rucker’s take actually builds off of a 2004 version of the song, fleshed out and recorded by Old Crow Medicine Show. The band heard ‘Rock Me, Mama’ on a bootleg album collecting a Dylan demo session that also yielded the classic ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.’ Dylan is credited as a co-writer of ‘Wagon Wheel,’ even though Old Crow Medicine Show didn’t directly work with him on their rewrite.

Fast-forward nearly another decade, and ‘Wagon Wheel’ found a home on Rucker’s third country album, ‘True Believers,’ released earlier this year. The song also made it to No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Next: Top 10 Bob Dylan Songs

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