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"Midnight Train to Georgia"
Single by Gladys Knight & the Pips
from the album Imagination
B-side "Midnight Train to Georgia (Instrumental)"
Released August 1973
Format 7" vinyl single
Recorded 1973
Genre Soul
Length 4:38
Label Buddah
Writer(s) Jim Weatherly
Producer Tony Camillo & Gladys Knight & the Pips
Gladys Knight & the Pips singles chronology
"All I Need Is Time"
(1973)
"Midnight Train to Georgia"
(1973)
"I've Got to Use My Imagination"
(1973)

"Midnight Train to Georgia" is a 1973 number-one hit single by Gladys Knight & the Pips, their second release after departing Motown Records for Buddah Records. Written by Jim Weatherly, and included on the Pips' 1973 LP Imagination, "Midnight Train to Georgia" won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus and has become Knight's signature song.

Contents

Background

The theme of the song is how romantic love can conquer differences in background. The boyfriend of the song's narrator is a failed musician who left his native Georgia to move to Los Angeles to become a "superstar, but he didn't get far". He decides to give up, and "go back to the life he once knew." Despite the fact that she's settled and secure in herself, the narrator decides to move to Georgia with him:

"And I'll be with him
On that midnight train to Georgia
I'd rather live in his world
Than live without him in mine."

The song was originally recorded by singer Cissy Houston, and released as a single a year earlier. Jim Weatherly had recorded one of his own songs, "Midnight Plane to Houston," on Jimmy Bowen's Amos Records. "It was based on a conversation I had with somebody... about taking a midnight plane to Houston," Weatherly recalls. "I wrote it as a kind of a country song. Then we sent the song to a guy named Sonny Limbo in Atlanta and he wanted to cut it on Cissy Houston... he asked if I minded if he changed the title to 'Midnight Train to Georgia.' And I said, I don't mind. Just don't change the rest of the song.'" Cissy Houston took Weatherly's song into the R&B chart. Her version can be found on the CD Midnight Train to Georgia: The Janus Years. Also, Weatherly's version began with "Nashville (not L.A.) proved too much for the man."

Weatherly's publisher forwarded the song to Gladys Knight and the Pips, who followed Houston's lead and kept the title "Midnight Train to Georgia." Their second single for Buddah, it debuted on the Hot 100 at number seventy-one and became the group's first number-one hit eight weeks later, as well as reaching number one on the soul singles chart, their fifth on that chart.[1]. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked at number ten.

"Midnight Train to Georgia" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. Rolling Stone ranked it #432 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

In her autobiography, Between Each Line of Pain and Glory, Gladys Knight wrote that she hoped the song was a comfort to the many thousands who come each year from elsewhere to Los Angeles to realize the dream of being in motion pictures or music, but then fail to realize that dream and plunge into despair.[2]

The song was featured during a scene in the 1978 film The Deer Hunter by director Michael Cimino, in which the character Michael (Robert DeNiro) searches for his friend Nick (Christopher Walken) in a strip club in Saigon as the girls gyrate to "Midnight Train To Georgia". The song was also featured in the episode "Episode 210" of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock.

Credits

Track Details [3]

Initial Track Recorded at Venture Sound Studios, Hillsborough, New Jersey, 1973

  • Drums: Andrew Smith
  • Bass: Bob Babbitt
  • Guitar: Jeff Mironov (playing a 1955 Fender Stratocaster)
  • Electric Piano: Tony Camillo

Overdubs recorded at Venture Sound Studios

  • Vocals recorded in Detroit. Gladys Knight recorded her lead vocals in a single take, with a punch-in of a single line done later in New York City.
  • Mixed by Ed Stasium

Trivia

  • The original inspiration for the song was Farrah Fawcett, long before she became famous. The writer, Jim Weatherly, knew Lee Majors and had a brief conversation with Majors' then-girlfriend Fawcett, who mentioned to him that she was going to take a midnight plane to Houston to visit her parents. The words "midnight plane to Houston" stuck with Weatherly and he used it as the basis for writing his original version, although the story in the song is not based on Fawcett but a story line that he wrote around the title.[4]

References

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 330.  
  2. ^ Between Each Line of Pain and Glory: My Life Story, by Gladys Knight. p. 187.
  3. ^ "Goldmine - Hop aboard the midnight train to Georgia with Gladys Knight and the Pips"
  4. ^ "Goldmine - Hop aboard the midnight train to Georgia with Gladys Knight and the Pips"

External links

Preceded by
"Angie" by The Rolling Stones
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
October 27, 1973 — November 3, 1973
Succeeded by
"Keep on Truckin' (Part 1)" by Eddie Kendricks
Preceded by
"Keep on Truckin' (Part 1)" by Eddie Kendricks
Billboard's Hot Soul Singles number one single
October 20 - November 10, 1973
Succeeded by
"Space Race" by Billy Preston
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