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Wagon Wheel Rag

About the Song

One of the angels of my childhood was my great-aunt Nita. She was a very colorful character–both literally and figuratively. She bleached her hair until it was flaming orange. She was fond of metallic gold fabrics. She drove a lavender Lincoln Continental. She lived a life that was… well… unrestrained in many areas.

One day in her later years, she called my mother on the phone. “Robin,” she said, “I’m joining your church. Can you come to my baptism?” The missionaries (I believe my mother sent them) had taught dear aunt Nita and she had accepted the gospel. None of us would have believed it possible.

She remained colorful–converted, but colorful. Her bishop asked her to play the piano for priesthood meeting, as none of the men could play. Little did he know, aunt Nita had played piano for silent movie theaters in her youth. None of the good priesthood brethren had ever before heard the hymns played like aunt Nita played them!

This little 1-page, Joplin-esque arrangement of “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel” is dedicated to the memory of aunt Nita’s flaming orange hair and her kind heart.

It would do nicely at a ward social. Please don’t play it in priesthood meeting.

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  1. Karen Gifford

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful talent with us, and making music available for free. I do so appreciate that. God bless you!!

  2. Judy Rapp

    Sister DeFord
    Love it, I may play it in Relief Society. Not many people willing to play the piano. I would have loved to met your great aunt. Reminds me of myself. Somewhat colorful too. I’m a convert also and love jazzing up the hymns

    • sallydeford

      We need all the colorful we can get! 😉

  3. organmeister

    Absolutely wonderful! Wouldn’t play it in Priesthood, but it would have been great to meet Nita!

  4. Judy Weber

    Dear Sister DeFord,
    Thank you for all the beautiful music you have so generously shared over the years. I will be using some of it in Sacrament Meeting and at family reunions in the near future.
    Is there any possibility that “Wagon Wheel Rag” could be arranged in a piano duet? I would like to use it at a Pioneer themed family reunion and have several talented piano playing family members who could perform this number.
    Judy Weber


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