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No. 17: Darius Rucker, ‘Wagon Wheel’ – Top Country Songs of the Century

This multi-platinum smash hit for Darius Rucker was originally cut by Old Crow Medicine Show, but it came with the group’s blessing. One would have a tough time arguing there was a bigger song in 2013 — Rucker has the Grammy to prove it.

While the OCMS hit was an underground success, Rucker’s version with Lady Antebellum brought the nation’s focus to this brand of old-timey music once again, just as the Soggy Bottom Boys did with Song No. 21 on this Top Country Songs of the Century list. Granger Smith paid tribute to this song when we caught up with him recently. He shares producers with Rucker and learned that Rucker had not heard the song until he was at his kid’s talent show.

“His kids junior talent show,” Smith explains. “He calls Frank (Rogers) mid-performance and goes, ‘There’s this song called ‘Wagon Wheel.’ You won’t believe it.'”

Smith says he relates to the song because like him, it went from an indie hit to a mainstream smash. “Wagon Wheel” was a multi-week No. 1 and has become Rucker’s career hit as a country artist.

About this list: Taste of Country’s Top Country Songs of the Century were decided by a panel of country music experts and fans using sales and chart data, a song’s social and musical impact and lyrical integrity. Select artists were also surveyed. You’ll hear from several throughout the list.

Granger Smith Reflects on the Importance of “Wagon Wheel” 

Next: See Song No. 16

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