31 Days, Day 5: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia by Vicki Lawrence


The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia by Vicki Lawrence

I bet y’all didn’t know Mama had a hit song way back in 1973.  Vicki Lawrence was a regular on “The Carol Burnett Show” (one of my favorites) when she had this hit, and later on she would star as Mama in “Mama’s Family”, a sassy character so similar to my Grandma that it was almost spooky.  The song was sung from the point of view of a murderous little sister who doesn’t miss when she aims her gun.  I don’t know too much about the young Ms. Lawrence but that certainly seems out of character to the version of her I see in this video.  I think what attracted me to the song was the mysterious music and the fact that the verses are sung in a near whisper, like she’s telling secrets, which I guess she is.

And the video.  There’s a lot of things going on in that video.  It appears to be from a TV show, and it’s shot on a beach.  Why, I can’t imagine.  It has nothing to do with lights going out in Georgia but perhaps I’ve been spoiled by decades of music videos into thinking every video of someone singing must be consistent with the song lyrics. Sometimes the people in the background are dancing, and at least once it looked like they were fighting, but then I thought I saw someone carrying a football and decided maybe they were playing football.  Still has nothing to do with the song.  I don’t know how she could concentrate on singing with all of that going on.

According to this website, the song was written by Ms. Lawrence’s husband, but he wasn’t happy with it.  She liked it and decided to record the demo version herself so record producers could hear it.  When no one else was interested in recording the song, she was asked to do it.  1981 a movie based on the song was released, along with a Tanya Tucker cover, and then in 1991, Reba McEntire herself recorded a cover of it.

I guess it just goes to show that sometimes Mama does know best.

2 thoughts on “31 Days, Day 5: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia by Vicki Lawrence

  1. I love the history behind this song. I didn’t know she was the original singer, but I loved that song when I was little. And no, I didn’t know what it was about either. Ha! I just loved the fierceness in her voice! I love your series!

    • Thank you so much! I had a list of songs ideas so I wouldn’t come up short on the 31 days, but I’ve had so much fun researching the back stories on them. I first thought I’d just write my memories and opinions but then I looked up one thing and then another, and now I’m curious about all of the songs. It’s so much fun!

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