Friends, as I have mentioned numerous times in various articles on this site – music was not something that was actively listened to in my household while I was growing up. There was no ban on music and it certainly had nothing to do with religious beliefs – it just wasn’t something that we took part in on a regular basis. I bring all of this up again as a possible excuse as to why until the other day I wasn’t aware that Vicki Lawrence was responsible for the hit song The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia. Granted when the song was originally released I was not even a year old, but I do recall years later listening to it on the car radio when spending the weekends with my grandparents. What stuck with me most is the dark nature of the tune, similar in fact to the likes of Ode to Billy Joe or The Legend of Wooley Swamp – even if the style and subject matter of the music is different for each song. In particular with The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia the almost upbeat change in the chorus drives home the more sinister elements of the overall story.
There is a small part of me that secretly hopes that many of you also didn’t realize it was Vicki Lawrence who was responsible for the hit song. Although it wasn’t originally even intended for Lawrence to record at all – many famous singers were approached to record the tune before she decided to record it herself. The song was actually written by Bobby Russell who had little faith in the song, Lawrence was married to Russell at the time, and it was her belief it would be quite popular. So the recording studio approached artists like Cher, Liza Minnelli, and even Bette Midler with the offer to record the tune. Reading about it online it seems that all of the artists approached with The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia were concerned that fans who lived in the South would react negatively. The reaction was that the single when released in November of ’72 would end up selling over a million copies – earning the 11th most popular song spot of ’73 by Billboard magazine.
Having said that though, I cannot give you an honest answer as to why this music video for The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia which naturally features Vicki Lawrence… takes place on a beach?