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WATCH: The Geography In 'Wagon Wheel' Makes Zero Sense

I've been so focused on "Country Roads" not actually being about West Virginia for most of my life that I've never stopped to really ponder the lyrics of "Wagon Wheel." But once you do, the song becomes much more of a geographical puzzle than anything else.

We learn at the beginning of the song our traveler is heading from New England to Raleigh, North Carolina. Fantastic, that's actually a pretty straight shot down I-95. Shouldn't be much of a problem at all.


It turns out to be quite a problem, however. It's the third verse of the song where things start to go off the rails.

Walkin' to the south out of RoanokeI caught a trucker out of Philly, had a nice long tokeBut he's a-headin' west from the Cumberland GapTo Johnson City, Tennessee

As the TokTok points out, Johnson City is east of the Cumberland Gap, but that's not where the geographical questions stop. Johnson City is southwest of Roanoke while Raleigh, our traveler's supposed destination, is southeast.

Putting aside the Cumberland gap conundrum, why would the narrator hitch a ride with a trucker who's going to Johnson City, in the completely opposite direction of where he needs to be? And if they really did have a "nice long toke" like he claims they did, he probably spent quite a while happily riding along going the wrong way.

This whole thing has thrown me for a loop. I yearn for the days when I didn't give this song too much thought because I'll never be able to listen to it the same again.