I’m stepping out of ministry mode for a moment to go on a rant about an awful song I’ve been hearing lately. The popular version of it is sung by Darius Rucker. The song is “Wagon Wheel.” If you’ve heard it, it has the line, “Rock me mama like a wagon wheel” in its chorus.
First, a little history of the song. It was penned by the great Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor. Another version was performed by Old Crow Medicine Show but it has caught more attention recently when Rucker sang it. Others have performed it as well. But on to more important things.
The song speaks of being comforted by a significant other and he wants her to “rock me like a wagon wheel.” Really?
Wagon wheels do not rock. They don’t. They roll. Don’t argue. If I held up a wagon wheel in front of you and asked you, “What does this item do?” You would say, “It goes on a wagon.” And then I would say, “And what motion does it make?” And unless you were either ignorant or just trying to be argumentative, you would say, “It rolls.”
Yes. It rolls. It does not rock. If it is rocking, then it is not fulfilling its intended purpose.
“Oh, oh, but a wagon rocks when it’s moving.” But the wagon wheel does not.
But don’t take my word for it. Go talk to some Amish and ask them, “Do you have any wagon wheels? If so, what motion do they make?” They would probably look at you funny then say, “Well, English, they roll.”
Yeah, I can hear you. “Oh, it’s music. It’s a song. It’s being expressive and giving us emotion.” Yeah. That’s right. But that doesn’t mean it’s good. Nor does that mean the figure of speech the author has used is any good. It isn’t.
Case in point, let’s consider, “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” by The Scorpions. If you’ve ever been to an airshow, you’ve heard this song. You know it – “Here I am, rock you like a hurricane!”
Yeah, if you’ve ever been in a hurricane, you probably got rocked. That’s good simile. When The Scorpions were writing that song, they might have had the following conversation:
“We need to write a song about being rocked by something. Or like something. What are things that rock people?”
“Bulldozers! Trains! Meteors! Lightning! Oh . . .oh . . hurricanes!”
I’m just saying.
And for all you future songwriters out there, please use responsible similes and metaphors. Please. It’s like duct taping your mailbox.