I met a grown man the other day who came right out and admitted that he had never heard Sonny Rollins play “Wagon Wheels.” We were in public and I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I took the only civilized option that sprang to mind. I promised him that if I could find it on the web, I would post the track for him and anyone else similarly deprived. Here it is, with Ray Brown on bass and Shelly Manne on drums, from Way Out West (1957), a basic repertoire item if ever there was one.
“Wagon Wheels” debuted in the Ziegield Follies in 1934. Among several successful recordings over the years were those by—strange though it may seem—Jimmy Lunceford, and Tommy Dorsey with strings. It was a hit for Spade Cooley and Paul Robeson, too, but the record permanently installed for a decade in the jukeboxes of my hometown was by The Sons of the Pioneers. You may find it a contrast to the Rollins version. Click here.