About The Song

Background

“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” is a Southern Gothic murder ballad written by songwriter Bobby Russell and first performed by actress and singer Vicki Lawrence in 1972. However, it gained renewed popularity and a different kind of legacy when it was covered by country music legend Reba McEntire in 1991. This song, filled with suspense and narrative twists, tells a story of betrayal, murder, and injustice set in a small Southern town.

Reba McEntire’s rendition of “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” was released as part of her album “For My Broken Heart,” which came out in October 1991. This album was a deeply personal project for McEntire, recorded in the wake of a tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of several members of her touring band. The song fit well within the album’s themes of loss and resilience and became one of its standout tracks.

Musical Style

McEntire’s version of “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” is a dramatic and powerful country ballad. The song’s arrangement features a blend of traditional country instrumentation, including acoustic and electric guitars, with a strong rhythm section and orchestral strings that add to the song’s dramatic tension. The production, handled by Tony Brown, is lush and polished, characteristic of early 1990s country music.

Reba McEntire’s vocal performance is commanding and emotive. She brings a sense of urgency and gravitas to the narrative, enhancing the song’s storytelling aspect. Her voice, known for its clarity and strength, navigates the song’s dynamic shifts with ease, capturing both the quiet tension and explosive revelations of the lyrics.

Lyrics

The lyrics of “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” tell a dark and complex story. The song’s narrator recounts a tragic sequence of events involving her brother, who is wrongly accused and executed for a murder he did not commit. The story is rife with themes of betrayal, deceit, and miscarried justice.

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The song begins with the narrator’s brother returning home from a two-week trip only to find out that his wife has been unfaithful. Seeking solace, he visits his best friend Andy, who reveals the affair. The brother, angered and heartbroken, sets out to confront his wife, only to discover that Andy has been murdered. In a cruel twist of fate, the brother is arrested and convicted of the crime:

“And that’s the night that the lights went out in Georgia That’s the night that they hung an innocent man.”

The chorus emphasizes the injustice and the sense of doom that permeates the song, underscoring the tragic outcome of the story. The final twist reveals that the narrator herself is the one who killed Andy, and she also disposed of her brother’s unfaithful wife, highlighting the deep-seated corruption and personal vendettas that drive the song’s narrative.

Cultural Impact

Reba McEntire’s version of “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” brought the song back into the spotlight nearly two decades after its original release. Her rendition was not only a commercial success but also a critical one, praised for its dramatic delivery and rich production. The song reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and became a staple in McEntire’s live performances.

The song’s compelling narrative and its themes of betrayal and injustice resonated with many listeners, making it a standout track in McEntire’s extensive discography. Its success also underscored McEntire’s versatility as an artist, capable of delivering both heartfelt ballads and intense story-songs with equal prowess.

The song has also been referenced and covered by various artists over the years, cementing its place in the pantheon of classic country music. Its enduring popularity speaks to its powerful storytelling and the universal themes it explores, which continue to resonate with audiences today.

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Conclusion

“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” as performed by Reba McEntire, is a powerful example of country music’s storytelling tradition. With its dramatic narrative, emotive vocal performance, and rich production, the song captures the listener’s imagination and takes them on a journey through a tale of betrayal and injustice.

McEntire’s version revitalized the song for a new generation of listeners and showcased her ability to bring depth and emotion to her music. The song’s success on the charts and its lasting impact on popular culture are testaments to its enduring appeal and the skill with which it was performed.

Overall, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” stands as a remarkable piece of musical storytelling, and Reba McEntire’s rendition remains a highlight in her career, illustrating her talent and her contribution to the country music genre.

Video

Lyrics

🎵 Let’s sing along with the lyrics! 🎤

He was on his way home from CandletopBeen two weeks gone and he thought he’d stopAt Web’s and have him a drink ‘fore he went home to herAndy Wo-Lo said, “Hello”He said, “Hi, what’s new?”And Wo said, “Sit down, I got some bad news that’s gonna hurt”
Said, “I’m your best friend and you know that’s rightBut your young bride ain’t home tonightSince you’ve been gone, she’s been seeing that Amos boy, Seth”Now he got mad and he saw redAndy said, “Boy, don’t you lose your head‘Cause to tell you the truth, I’ve been with her myself”
That’s the night that the lights went out in GeorgiaThat’s the night that they hung an innocent manWell, don’t trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer‘Cause the judge in the town’s got bloodstains on his hands
Andy got scared and left the barWalking on home ’cause he didn’t live far, you seeAndy didn’t have many friends and he just lost him oneBrother thought his wife must have left townSo he went home and finally foundThe only thing Daddy had left him, and that was a gun
He went off to Andy’s houseSlipping through the backwoods quiet as a mouseCame upon some tracks too small for Andy to makeHe looked through the screen at the back porch doorAnd he saw Andy lying on the floorIn a puddle of blood, and he started to shake
The Georgia patrol was making their roundsSo he fired a shot, just to flag ’em downA big-bellied sheriff grabbed his gun and said“Why’d you do it?”
The judge said “guilty” on a make-believe trialSlapped the sheriff on the back with a smileSaid, “Supper’s waiting at home and I got to get to it”
That’s the night that the lights went out in GeorgiaThat’s the night that they hung an innocent manWell, don’t trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer‘Cause the judge in the town’s got bloodstains on his hands
Well, they hung my brother before I could sayThe tracks he saw while on his wayTo Andy’s house and back that night were mineAnd his cheating wife had never left townThat’s one body that’ll never be foundYou see little sister don’t miss when she aims her gun
That’s the night that the lights went out in GeorgiaThat’s the night that they hung an innocent manWell, don’t trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer‘Cause the judge in the town’s got bloodstains on his hands
That’s the night that the lights went out in GeorgiaThat’s the night that they hung an innocent manWell, don’t trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer‘Cause the judge in the town’s got bloodstains on his hands

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