March 27

Antidote Found in Music Voiced in Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away”

Best known for his 1973 smash “Drift Away,” Dobie Gray was a versatile vocalist who could handle soul, country, and pop, not to mention musical theater. Gray’s origins are somewhat ill-defined; different sources alternately list his birth name as Leonard Victor Ainsworth or Laurence Darrow Brown, and his Texas birthplace as Brookshire or Simonton. His likely birth date is July 26, 1940 (though some sources list 1942 or 1943). Whatever the case, Gray grew up in a family of sharecroppers and discovered gospel music through his grandfather, a Baptist minister. He also soaked up the R&B and country music of his surroundings, and in the early ’60s, he moved to Los Angeles to seek his fortune.

Antidote Found in Music Voiced in Dobie Gray’s "Drift Away" 1

“Drift Away” in a deeper sense

“Drift Away” is a song from the 1970s, written by Mentor Williams and originally performed by John Henry Kurtz. The song became more popularized by Dobie Gray’s 1973 Single, hitting #5 at the Billboard Hot 100.

Day after day I’m more confused
Yet I look for the light through the pouring rain
You know that’s a game that I hate to lose
And I’m feelin’ the strain
Ain’t it a shame

The world isn’t so kind to explain everything–to explain problems and pains that people suffer through (poverty, war, or even daily stress). Thus, we are sometimes confused. In the song, the narrator is confused by the world, as suggested by the lines, and compares his situation to standing in a pouring rain, looking for a light. This metaphor is of him looking for hope and relief (“light”) from unavoidable worldly hardships (“pouring rain”).

Oh, give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Oh, give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away

The chorus is the theme of the song: Listening to music brings relief from the world’s troubles.Here, the lyrics suggest that the narrator is listening to music, and by doing so, he feels problem-free and drifts away from the stressful world.

Throughout the next lines of the song, the narrator speaks to the music as if it is a friend that will help him get through this cruel world and continue on with his life.

Thanks for the joy that you’ve given me

The lyricist addresses the music as a person, and thanks music for helping him through hard times and giving him joy. The song is an explanation of how music and its elements help him deal with the world.

He is not saying that his mind is free from strain; he’s saying that his mind is empty and he is idle, as he does not know what to do. At this time the melody of a song can fill him (and his mind) with purpose and emotion.

Then – when he feels blue (feeling down, depressed), the sounds of the guitar soothe his depressed state.

Na na na, won’t you, won’t you take me
Oh, take me

This part of the song continues on and on until it fades away. This was a popular method for early-mid 70s rock to end a song. This repetition and slow fade give its listeners a sense of continuation. In this particular song, however, this slow fade may also have a special meaning, as it suggests that music will continue to help him throughout life whenever he needs it.

Music indeed brings a soothing effect to every person who needs relaxation. Songs become more pacifying when its country, do you agree? If you do, we’ve got a lot on the dish for you here at Country Daily.


Dobie Gray

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