I Thought I saw Darius


I thought I saw Darius Rucker driving a silver Volvo last week. He was turning left onto the crosstown headed towards Mount Pleasant. A rockstar shouldn’t be driving a Volvo and one wasn’t because it wasn’t him. 

There are two celebrity sightings here that feel distinctly Charleston: Bill Murray and Darius Rucker. Bill Murray shows up sometimes when you don’t want him to, like in your wedding photos. Darius can be seen like any other Charlestonian doing Charleston things. I like the man, I love his voice, I like some Hootie songs, and I don’t much care for his country material. Not because it is bad but because I don’t much care for any country songs that aren’t from Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, or Patsy Cline. 

I do love Darius’s voice. If we ever develop artificial intelligence where we can download ourselves into carbon-robot clones, I’d like to buy the “sound like Darius Rucker when you sing” patch. That way when I am singing in the car and the satellite radio cuts out for a second, my horrible voice won’t be left hanging there like a stink-cloud wafting from PePe Le Pew’s behind. 

Darius Rucker’s voice sounds like a bowl of grits. Good grits too, not that hominy shit; his voice slowly slides off a spoon.


I didn’t see Darius driving a Volvo the other day and yet I still thought that moment was special and I can’t figure out why. I like Hootie and the Blowfish. Well, I like Hootie. You can have the Blowfish. I’m sure they are fine fellows and I don’t mean to disparage them. But every time I hear my favorite Hootie song, I Go Blind, I go blind when one of the Blowfish sings the background vocals. I wish Darius performed both parts.

I should be annoyed with Darius instead of fawning over the time I thought I saw him. He breathed terrible, gut-wrenching new life into the song Wagon Wheel by covering it. I heard his version and I was so angry that I wanted to amass a flotilla and sail it over to his new house in the Bahamas, which he bought with the Wagon Wheel residuals, and demand an answer to why he would ever record that song. He would then hold his arms open to his new island paradise and say, “this is why, asshole. Now beat it!” (The music video he did for it has 218 million views on Youtube.) 

After some thought I realized that Darius didn’t resuscitate that song, he killed it. He wore it out, thank the lordt. Even in Charleston, home of the “Wagon Wheel every night ‘till I die” fan club, I have noticed some eye-rolls when that song comes on. I bet I have heard Wagon Wheel (either the Old Crow, cover bands, or Darius’s version) 580,000 times since I moved to Charleston fifteen years ago. People here insist the song is about Charleston even though it is really about Raleigh, North Carolina. Still, drunkards and sweaty college girls belt that song out at Charleston bars like it is their personal anthem. At least they did before Darius sang the Wagon Wheel eulogy.

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Rock Me Mama is a track on a Bob Dylan bootleg that someone peeled off a reel to reel in the garbage outside a music studio. The song wasn’t finished and has been described as not even a song at all “but more like Dylan mumbling into a hot microphone while he stomped his foot and strummed a guitar.” I’m not sure how they could distinguish that from one of his finished songs. Then a man named Ketch Secor, whose name makes him sound like the inventor of a Wild West cure-all elixir, heard the Dylan demo and “finished” the song; turning it into what is known as Wagon Wheel. Then Darius heard his daughter’s school band play the song and he decided that he had to record it. Never has a middle school band recital done more damage. It did however lead to the song’s passage into music purgatory right next to the place God has reserved for ABBA’s Dancing Queen, if he can ever figure out how to get the damn thing off Broadway. 

The essence of Charleston is hard to capture in a work of art. Nowhere is this more evident than in the various television shows and magazine articles produced about Charleston in the past few years as a result of the tourist boom. Al Roker comes here and he eats some shrimp and he trips over a cobblestone street and he thinks he has shown you Charleston. I’m not saying that they are wrong or misguided, and I am glad people like The Today Show and Travel and Leisure take an interest in my home, but I think the only way to really understand Charleston is to live here. And the only people qualified to show the rest of the world this place are the artists who live here like Darius Rucker. 

Darius Rucker personifies Charleston. He made a bunch of money early in his life, retired to the marsh and the golf course for a decade or so, and then came back as something completely different and churned out even more hits. He’s part old school and part new. Not all of his songs are about Charleston but he puts a little Charleston into each one. In the Hootie and the Blowfish song I Will Wait, Darius sings the line, “Another night alone in Charleston.” I have heard that line in a train station in Denver, a casino in Vegas, an airport in Chicago, the gift shop on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, and many other places. We celebrate our artists because they package up little pieces of Charleston and send them out to the world. Every time I hear that line from I Will Wait, it is like someone popped open a vial containing a dollop of stinky pluff mud and stuck it under my nose to remind me of home.

I didn’t meet Darius Rucker or take a picture with him or even see him turning onto the crosstown. All I did was see a guy in a Volvo. But what I figured out in that moment is why we connect certain famous people to certain places. Charleston artists like Darius represent with their art this place we call home and they highlight the things that we love about it. Their art reminds us of home over and over again. I smiled when I saw a guy who I thought for a moment was Darius Rucker because art is powerful.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. I would like to sincerely thank those who have patronized this blog. 2019 has been an incredible year for me and I couldn’t have grown or improved like I did without your support. Thank you and I hope to see you in 2020.



College Football

Never Lost in South Carolina

Shem Creek

I did not experience a college football rivalry until I moved to South Carolina fifteen years ago. On my first day at the College of Charleston I was confused by all the people talking about “Carolina” football. I knew these people couldn’t be Carolina Tar Heel fans because we never mention football. I learned quickly that some words mean different things in this state than they do everywhere else in the world. In South Carolina, “Carolina” refers to the South Carolina Gamecocks; the rest of the world uses that term to refer to the place where Michael Jordan played basketball. The world loses most arguments in this state.    

The only other football team in South Carolina that anyone cares about is the Clemson (clem(p)son) Tigers. I am sure you have heard of them. It doesn’t matter who you root for outside the borders of South Carolina, inside them you must pick one of the two teams. I have decided to approach the rivalry as a chameleon. I root for the better team unless I am surrounded by an inordinate amount of the worse team’s fans and then I will pretend to share their misery. Being a Clemson fan these last five years has been a lot of fun. They have beaten the Gamecocks five times in a row and won two national championships. Before that, I was a big fan of the Ol’ Ball Coach. He lead the Gamecocks to five-straight victories over Clemson before he retired. I haven’t pulled for a loser in the Palmetto Bowl in ten years.  

My South Carolina friends are split down the middle; half of them are Gamecocks fans and half of them are Clemson Tiger fans. Whether I get invited to a Clemson viewing party or a Gamecocks viewing party, I dutifully show up with my orange or garnet pompoms. It has been fun watching my Clemson friends revel in their success these last few years. It hasn’t been as fun watching my Gamecocks buddies wallow in such misery, but at least they have a good women’s basketball team. 

One of the greatest qualities of Gamecocks fans is their optimism. Every “national signing day” they joyously expound upon their new recruits like they just won it all. I consider this day to be their national championship because they are undefeated and the new recruits have yet to disappoint them. Clemson’s national championship is usually the national championship. 

I have enjoyed Clemson’s domination of college football these last few years, but it is becoming tedious. I’m a Tar Heel at heart and since we don’t mention football, I only watch the games to be entertained. There is nothing entertaining about a 55-10 trouncing, even if the victim is N.C. State. Clemson made its bones ending Alabama’s preeminence only to become that which it killed. Nobody except for those draped in orange wants to watch a football game where graduate student-transfers are substituted for starting players in the third quarter because the game is already won. The price you pay for being better than everyone else is that your games become boring and unwatchable.   

I would like to encourage all the Cocks I know to keep their heads up. What, what? Another word that means something different in South Carolina than it does everywhere else in the world. Anyway, things will not stay terrible forever. Life has an ebb and flow like the tide and the Tide may be your only hope. Dabo will go to Alabama after Trevor Lawrence leaves and things will be peachy in Columbia once again. You will be Sandstorming your way back to prominence before you know it. In the mean time you’ll just have to be content with beating Georgia every year. 

On November 30, 2019, the Clemson Tigers will play the South Carolina Gamecocks for the 117th time. Clemson’s season will be on the line and the Gamecocks will have nothing to lose because their season ended weeks ago. Both teams are lucky that the Tar Heels don’t mention football because they have already beaten South Carolina and they almost beat Clemson. Regardless, I believe that the Palmetto Bowl will be a great game; one in which the Gamecocks have a real chance of winning. No matter the outcome, I am going to enjoy watching the game because it is guaranteed that I will like the winner.

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