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"Drift Away"
Single by John Henry Kurtz
from the album Reunion
Genre Swamp rock
Label ABC
Songwriter(s)Mentor Williams
  • Steve Barri
  • Dan Walsh
  • Harvey Price
John Henry Kurtz singles chronology
"Drift Away"
"One Tin Soldier"
"Drift Away"
Dobie Gray - DA.jpg
Single by Dobie Gray
from the album Drift Away
B-side"City Stars"
Label Decca
Producer(s)Mentor Williams
Dobie Gray singles chronology
" Rose Garden"
"Drift Away"
"Loving Arms"

"Drift Away" is a song by Mentor Williams written in 1970 and originally recorded by John Henry Kurtz on his 1972 album Reunion. Mentor Williams was a country songwriter, and John Henry Kurtz was an actor and swamp rock singer. It was later given to soul singer Dobie Gray for whom it became a surprise international hit and the best known version. In 1973 the song became Dobie Gray's biggest hit, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and certified gold by the RIAA. [3] It was the final pop hit for Decca Records in the United States.

A new version by Uncle Kracker, with Gray, became a major hit in 2003.

Chart performance (Dobie Gray)

Other versions

Narvel Felts version

"Drift Away"
Single by Narvel Felts
from the album Drift Away
B-side"Foggy Misty Morning"
Producer(s)Farah Productions [10]
Narvel Felts singles chronology
"Rockin' Little Angel"
"Drift Away"
"All in the Name of Love"

A country version was recorded by Narvel Felts in 1973. Felts' version — which changed the lyrics "I wanna get lost in your rock and roll" to "I wanna get lost in your country song" — peaked at #8 on the Billboard' Hot Country Singles chart in mid-August 1973, about three months after Gray's version reached its popularity peak. [11] This song marked Narvel's first success in the country scene, as he was known from the late 1950s as a rockabilly singer.

Chart performance (Narvel Felts)

Chart (1973) Peak
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 48
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 8

Michael Bolton version

"Drift Away"
Single by Michael Bolton
from the album Timeless: The Classics
ReleasedDecember 14, 1992 (1992-12-14) [12]
Label Columbia
Michael Bolton singles chronology
" To Love Somebody"
"Drift Away"
" Reach Out I'll Be There"

Michael Bolton covered "Drift Away" and released it as the second single from his 1992 covers album, Timeless: The Classics, in December 1992. His rendition became the only hit version of the song in the United Kingdom, where it reached number 18, and also charted in Ireland and New Zealand.


Chart (1992–1993) Peak
Ireland ( IRMA) [13] 15
New Zealand ( Recorded Music NZ) [14] 23
UK Singles ( OCC) [15] 18

Uncle Kracker featuring Dobie Gray version

"Drift Away"
Kracker - Drift Away cd single.jpg
Single by Uncle Kracker featuring Dobie Gray
from the album No Stranger to Shame
ReleasedJanuary 27, 2003 (2003-01-27)
Label Lava
Uncle Kracker singles chronology
" In a Little While"
"Drift Away"
"Memphis Soul Song"
Dobie Gray singles chronology
"Take It Real Easy"
"Drift Away"

American singer-songwriter Uncle Kracker released a cover version from his second studio album, No Stranger to Shame (2002), in January 2003. This version, which featured Dobie Gray singing the bridge and singing backing vocals and final verse with Kracker, reached number nine on the Hot 100. The song was in the year-end top 20 just like the original 1973 version. It spent a then-record-setting 28 weeks atop the adult contemporary chart in the US. It also peaked at number 25 on the New Zealand Singles Chart.

Music video

The music video was directed by Bronston Jones. Filmed in Kracker's hometown of Detroit, it shows him performing the song on stage to an audience (Dobie, during his parts, comes in to perform) and Kracker working at a garage (owned by his brother), unloading and stacking tires. Scenes also feature him walking alone on snowy railroad tracks, and singing on an empty stage in the garage. His mechanic's uniform is labeled "Matt," a reference to his real first name, Matthew.


Release history

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United States January 27, 2003 (2003-01-27) Hot adult contemporary radio Lava [25]
May 5, 2003 (2003-05-05) Contemporary hit radio [26]

Other cover versions

"Drift Away" has also been covered by many bands and vocalists around the world. Versions include those of Clarence Carter, Uncle Kracker, Allan Clarke, Roy Orbison, Ike & Tina Turner, Humble Pie, Mud, Jackie DeShannon, Rod Stewart, James Hollis, Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles, the Neville Brothers, Jon Bon Jovi, [27] Copperhead, Christian Kane, the Rolling Stones, the Nylons, Ringo Starr (sharing the lead vocal duties with Tom Petty and Alanis Morissette, with Steven Tyler on the drums), [28] Bruce Springsteen, BoDeans, Judson Spence, Billy Joe Royal, Steve Young and John Kay. [29] Folk singer Tom Rush recorded the song on his album What I Know, released in 2009.

The Rolling Stones recorded a cover of the song during the sessions for their It's Only Rock 'n Roll LP in 1974, but it did not appear on the finished album. [30] It was finally given an official release in October 2021 as part of the Tattoo You reissue. The Heptones recorded a reggae version which is included on many compilation CDs. Street Corner Symphony also sang a version of this song as their swan song on the season 2 finale of the NBC series The Sing-Off; that version is arranged by Deke Sharon. [31] Bon Jovi usually played the song live in 1987: a version was recorded as part of a Westwood One radio live series concert. Dolly Parton and Anne Murray performed the song together in 1976 on Parton's variety show Dolly!, though they sang the lyrics of the Felts' version ("I want to get lost in your country song").

Garth Brooks for the 2013 Blue-Eyed Soul album in the Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences compilation.

Temuera Morrison recorded and included Drift Away in his 2014 debut album Tem. [32]

Country music star Lynn Anderson (who was the partner of Mentor Williams, who wrote the song) recorded a gospel version that was rewritten by Williams for her 2015 gospel album, Drift Away, which would become her final album.

See also


  1. ^ "200 Greatest Soft Rock Songs".
  2. ^ McIntyre, Ken (July 9, 2018). "Rock'N'Soul: 20 Soul Classics Rock Fans Will Love". Classic Rock. Future plc. Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved September 12, 2022.
  3. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum - November 21, 2010: Dobie Gray certified singles". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on February 25, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  4. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN  0-646-11917-6.
  5. ^ "Dobie Gray Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 101.
  7. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (December 26, 2017). "Image : RPM Weekly". Library and Archives Canada.
  8. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1973/Top 100 Songs of 1973". Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  9. ^ Archived 2014-07-15 at the Wayback Machine Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 29, 1973
  10. ^ "Narvel Felts - Drift Away / Foggy Misty Morning - ABC - UK - ABC 4119". 45cat. 1976-05-14. Retrieved 2014-06-26.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 143. ISBN  978-0-89820-177-2.
  12. ^ "New Releases: Singles". Music Week. December 12, 1992. p. 19.
  13. ^ " The Irish Charts – Search Results – Drift Away". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  14. ^ " Michael Bolton – Drift Away". Top 40 Singles.
  15. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  16. ^ " Uncle Kracker feat. Dobie Gray – Drift Away". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  17. ^ "Uncle Kracker Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  18. ^ "Uncle Kracker Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  19. ^ "Uncle Kracker Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  20. ^ "Uncle Kracker Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  21. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 2003". Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  22. ^ "2003 The Year in Music". Billboard. Vol. 115, no. 52. December 27, 2003. p. YE-80. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  23. ^ "2003 The Year in Music". Billboard. Vol. 115, no. 52. December 27, 2003. p. YE-80. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  24. ^ "2004 The Year in Music". Billboard. Vol. 116, no. 52. December 25, 2004. p. YE-74. Retrieved November 5, 2021.
  25. ^ "Going for Adds" (PDF). Radio & Records. No. 1488. January 24, 2003. p. 30. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  26. ^ "Going for Adds" (PDF). Radio & Records. No. 1502. May 2, 2003. p. 26. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  27. ^ "Jon Bon Jovi - Drift Away".
  28. ^ Vertical Man CD liner notes (Mercury Records 1998 ASCAP 314 558 598-2). Retrieved 2021-12-05.
  29. ^ "Original versions of Drift Away written by Mentor Williams". SecondHandSongs. Retrieved 2014-06-26.
  30. ^ Stadler, Gustavus (25 June 2013). "Cover Art". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  31. ^ Sharon, Deke; Dietz, Robert (2005). "Drift Away". Modern A Cappella Volume 1 SATB (div). Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN  1-423-40048-8.
  32. ^ "Temuera Morrison releases debut album". 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2016-10-08.