The Evolution of Send Me on My Way by Rusted Root

Send Me on My Way turned many people into Rusted Root fans when it first hit the radio in 1995. 

While it was never a Top 10 hit, this rhythmic tune added to the soundtrack of the 90s. The group gained popularity through the music festival circuit along with Blues Traveler and Dave Matthews Band. 

But it’s Send Me on My Way that comes to mind when thinking of Rusted Root. 

Let’s learn more about this 90s band and the song that grooved its way into the hearts of music fans. 

About Rusted Root

Formed in the early 1990s, Rusted Root attracted fans of world music and percussion-heavy jams. Critics and fans often compared them to bands like The Grateful Dead, whose live shows consisted of improvisational-style playing. Rusted Root’s studio recordings were just a taste of the energy the band created during their concerts. 

Founding members included Michael Glabicki (guitar/songwriting), Patrick Norman (bass), Liz Berlin, and Jim Donovan (percussion). Glabicki sang lead vocals; however, all members provided backing vocals on most songs. Often harmonizing, chanting, and even yodeling in some cases!

It’s easy to hear the influence of African, Indian, and Native American music in Rusted Root’s songs. Audiences watched band members switch instruments throughout their concerts. The multi-instrumental musicians included wind and percussion instruments as well as banjo and mandolin in their mix. 

Several other musicians joined the band throughout the 90s. But the one key factor among them was that they were talented at playing more than one instrument. 

Rusted Root released their first album, Cruel Sun, in 1992. But it wasn’t until two years later, with the release of When I Woke, that they really became known. They got heavy play on college radio stations across the country. And they performed in traveling music festivals like Blues Traveler’s H.O.R.D.E Festival. 

During the mid-90s, they opened for Plant and Page, The Allman Brothers, Phish, and The Grateful Dead. Talk about some excellent exposure for an up-and-coming band!

Rusted Root’s popularity waned later in the 90s. However, they continued to tour and release studio albums. Their last album, The Movement, came out in 2012. 

While the band has never officially broken up, they seem to be on an extended break. Frontman Michael Glabicki said in a 2019 interview, “It’s technically on hiatus. But there are no plans to get back together.”

How Did Rusted Root Create Send Me on My Way?

Lead songwriter Michael Glabicki credits a happy feeling, sunny room, and his guitar for helping create this iconic song. 

In an interview with Songfacts.com, Glabicki said, “I remember just walking right into our studio during the day. We had these big windows in this warehouse, and the sun was shining in…I picked up the guitar and just started writing it.”

He continues, “It was just a very, very happy feeling. You could feel that there was a lot of happiness in the room. Whether that was an extension of me or something else in there that was very happy, you just felt it.”

The penny whistle, also known as the tin whistle, is an instrument not typically heard in modern music. But Send Me on My Way highlights a penny whistle solo performed by member John Buynak. Glabicki asked Buynak to join the band purely for his talent in playing flutes and woodwind instruments. 

The penny whistle solo happened purely from band members being silly during a session in the studio. Percussionist Jenn Wertz was singing, “On my way,” over and over while Buynak danced around the room playing the whistle. 

Singer Toni Childs influenced the composition of Send Me on My Way. Glabicki had been listening to her quite a bit around the time the band wrote the song. Childs would often use African sounds and instruments in her pieces. 

Sending It On Its Way

Rusted Root’s 1992 debut album, Cruel Sun, included the original studio recording of Send Me on My Way. The Pittsburgh-based Blue Duck Records released the album. Two years later, they released When I Woke under a new PolyGram Record contract. The band included a revised version of Send Me on My Way.

Released as a single in 1995, the song only reached #72 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Rusted Root’s music wasn’t exactly the kind you’d often hear on mainstream radio. They never quite fit the mold for popular music. Rusted Root attracted fans of The Grateful Dead and Phish, neither of which had a Billboard hit song. 

What is Send Me on My Way About?

To understand the meaning of Send Me on My Way, you first need to know what they’re singing. Whether it’s the studio version or a live performance, the words are often indecipherable.

There’s one part that sounds like “Oohmaseeyou,” and another that sounds like “Mamasaydobeddyalong.” Lead singer Michael Glabicki says the indecipherable words are intentional. 

In an interview with Songfacts.com, Glabicki explains the lyrics aren’t supposed to sound like real words. “I was in the process of coming up with lyrics, and it just sounded so good and felt so right that it had a meaning of its own that you couldn’t make better by making it a word.”

There aren’t many lyrics to Send Me on My Way, and they repeat most throughout the song. 

I would like to reach out my hands
I may see you (oohmaseeyou?), I may tell you to run
You know what they say about the young
(mamasaydobeddyalong?)

Well, pick me up with golden hand
I may see you, I may tell you to run
You know what they say about the young
I would like to hold my little hand
How we will run we will, how we will crawl.

According to Lis_00, a contributor on Songmeanings.com, Send Me on My Way is “about life, living your own way by any means.” Another commenter, DrDeath89f, says, “I think the song is completely about freedom and living your life the way you want to, living so you have no regrets.”

Uprooted Rusted Root 

While Rusted Root hasn’t officially broken up, band members have splintered off to form Uprooted. Michael Glabicki and Dirk Miller, along with other musicians, have brought Rusted Root’s songs back to life. 

Uprooted has performed Send Me on My Way during their concerts, delighting long-time Rusted Root fans. Here’s a clip from their 2018 show at the Columbus Commons in Columbus, Ohio. 

How Many Movies is Send Me on My Way In?

Send Me on My Way has lasted longer than many songs from the 90s. That’s due in large part to its use in popular movies. 

It was used for the first time in a movie soundtrack for the 1996 movie Matilda, starring Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman. Then, in 2002, the Oscar-nominated animated film Ice Age introduced a new audience to Send Me on My Way. 

Glabicki understands the song’s evolution over the years goes beyond the life Rusted Root gave to it. In a 2014 interview with the Greenville News, he said, “Everyone has a great memory or connection with the song. The song grew up and now has a life of its own; it’s bigger; we get to sit back and watch it.”

The Evolution of Send Me on My Way

One could say Send Me on My Way evolved from a 90s rhythmic hippie anthem to a Hollywood soundtrack tune. 

It’s in good company as more tunes from that decade seem to pop up in movies and TV shows. We sure love when some of our favorite songs are given new life in this way.

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