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Dobie Gray ‘Drift Away’: 7/26/40-12/6/11

December 7, 2011

According to Wikipedia, Dobie Gray (July 26, 1940 – December 6, 2011)[1][2] was an African American singer and songwriter, whose musical career spanned soul, country, pop and musical theater.

His hit records included “The ‘In’ Crowd” in 1965, and “Drift Away“, which was one of the biggest hits of 1973, sold over one million copies, and remains a staple of radio airplay.[1]

Here’s a guest post about Dobie Gray and “Drift Away” from Ron Wells:

Dobie Gray has passed away. I can’t honestly say I was a big fan, though I guess I heard “The In Crowd” about a million times as a kid.

But I will always remember Dobie Gray for his version of Mentor William’s great pop song, “Drift Away.” Oh, there are a whole lot of singers who’ve covered this song wonderfully, but it’s Dobie’s version I always hear in my head.

I liked it when it first came out, but as I grew older it meant even more to me. The lyrics became more than just words, they became a statement of belief. A reason to believe. The sum total of why I listened to so much music by so many different bands and singers.

The lyrics just jump out at you:

“Day after day I’m so confused
Yet I look for the light
through the pourin’ rain.”

You understand the sentiment immediately.

And Dobie’s voice just carries that longing, that hope behind the pain. Even when the world outside “looks so unkind,” there’s the music.

And the beat.

“Give me the beat boys and free my soul.”

Exactly. The melancholy giving way to a heartbeat leading to freedom. A favorite singer. A favorite band. The way the music comes through when the needle hits the spinning 45 vinyl disc. When the cassette locks into place. When the compact disc slides into it’s tray. When the ipod begins to play. No matter the year, the time of day, it frees your soul.

Thanks for the joy. And how many things are always there for you in your time of need to bring you some joy. Some measure of celebration. Some relief from life itself. Then listen for the beat, and hear Dobie sing

“I wanna get lost in your rock and roll
And drift away.”

His voice carrying your hopes and dreams. His voice lifting your soul.

It‘s always the music that I can count on. It frees my heart and soul and spirit into a wonderful and mysterious place that transcends this earth. It goes beyond understanding.

Until I just drift away…Into the beauty of music. Into the mystical heartbeat. Into the infinite wonder.

Dobie’s voice caught all of the heartache, melancholy and unbridled joy of the life. Everything I ever thought and felt about music is in this song. Thanks to Mentor William’s for capturing what so many of us feel. And thanks to Dobie Gray for capturing the divine essence of the song.

Dobie Gray is gone. Or maybe he just drifted away. On the wings of rhythm, and rhyme and harmony. To the strains of a guitar that soothed him.

After helping me along. After making me strong.

Thanks for your song……


Here’s Dobie Gray singing “Drift Away” again, this time with the lyrics:

One Comment leave one →
  1. Chrys Cortright permalink
    December 8, 2011 3:22 am

    Loved your blog on Dobie Gray. Loved those songs!! Thanks for posting, Gwen!

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