It’s time for another Battle of the Bands and today I’m featuring the southern gothic song “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.” Listen to both versions and vote which one you like the best: I’ll be posting the results in 6 days!
“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” is a song written in 1972 by songwriter Bobby Russell and sung by Vicki Lawrence, an American singer, actress, and comedian. Lawrence’s version, from her 1973 Bell Records album of the same name, was a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 after its release.
Although Bobby Russell wrote both the lyrics and music for the song, he was reluctant to record even a demonstration because he “didn’t like it.” According to Lawrence, who was married to Russell at the time, she believed it was destined to be successful and recorded the demo herself. The publishers and the record label did not quite know how to pitch the song, as it was not really a country or a pop song. The first thought was to offer the song to actress/singer Liza Minnelli, but eventually it was offered to singer Cher, but her then-husband and manager Sonny Bono reportedly refused it, as he was said to be concerned that the song might offend Cher’s southern fans. Without a singer to record the song, Lawrence went into a studio and recorded it professionally herself, with the instrumental backing of L.A. session musicians from the Wrecking Crew, then pressed the label to release it as a single.
Released as a single in June 1972, the song would ultimately become a number-one success for Lawrence, topping the Hot 100 chart in early 1973.
It’s not always popular to pit an original versus a cover in these Battle of the Bands but I’m going to do it anyway here because I think both versions are very good. But you be the judge: which one do you like best?
Contender #1: Vicki Lawrence 1972
Contender #2: Reba McEntire 1991
During 1991, the song was sung as a cover version by Reba McEntire on her album For My Broken Heart. It reached number 12 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. While still a commercially successful release, this broke a string of 24 consecutive top 10 country singles by McEntire.
TIME TO VOTE! Which version do you like better and why? And when you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:
- Stephen T. McCarthy’s Battle of the Bands Blog
- Tossing it Out
- Mike’s Ramblings
- Curious as a Cathy
- The Sound of One Hand Typing
- dcrelief ~ Battle of the Bands
- Shady Dell Music & Memories
- Cherdo on the Flipside
- THE DOGLADY’S DEN
- Jingle Jangle Jungle
- Janie Junebug Righting and Editing
- Jeffrey A. Scott
- Holli’s Hoots and Hollers
- Quiet Laughter
- Your Daily Dose
- Evil Pop Tart