Lou Reed

Wagon Wheel

Composed by Lou Reed

Song Review by

Popular legend (and a period article in the British New Musical Express) insists that "Wagon Wheel," one of the most colorfully commercial tracks on 1972's Transformer album, was written by producer David Bowie as a gift to Lou Reed. Neither party has confirmed or denied the rumor and it is most likely that that is all it is: a rumor.

In fact, "Wagon Wheel" appears to be the marriage of three separate song fragments, the first a somewhat slight affirmation of self-worth that insists "you've got to live your life as though you're number one"; the second a whispered prayer to the Heavenly Father, asking how to respond to a girl who's making the singer crazy and lazy; and the third, a rambunctious demand to be woken up early in the morning. It's a cunning construction that explodes into even greater life on vinyl, a distinctive guitar romp punctuated by the Thunderthighs backing chorus interjections of "spoke, spoke." The next time somebody tells you that Lou Reed (or David Bowie) takes himself far too seriously, slap "Wagon Wheel" on the CD player.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Transformer 1972 BMG / Sony Music
No Image 1983 RCA
3 CD Box Set 2003 BMG
Lou Reed/Transformer 2006 RCA
Oh! You Pretty Things: The Songs of David Bowie 2006
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 3:21
Original Album Classics [#2] 2008 RCA / Sony BMG
The RCA & Arista Album Collection 2016 Legacy / RCA 3:19
No Image 2016 Legacy / RCA / Sony Music 3:19
blue highlight denotes editor's pick