Fans of blues songs would surely love “Bright Lights, Big City,” a popular classic tune in the early 1960’s. It was the American bluesman Jimmy Reed who first brought it to the radio. It has since become an essential part of the standard blues collection. Jimmy and his wife Mary Reed wrote the song together and was later called a “textbook Jimmy and Mama Reed duet.”

Jimmy Reed/Photo credit: Youtube

“Bright Lights, Big City,” as the title implies, is a song centered on urban life. It specifically recounts the sad story of a man who, unfortunately, lost his lover to the nightlife and lure of an undisclosed city. It employs Reed’s signature style, steady-rolling, throughout the song. The song entered Billboard R&B chart peaking at No. 3 and became one of Reed’s most successful records. “Bright Light, Big City” was also a minor pop hit ranking at No. 58 on Hot 100. Originally, the song was recorded on Reed’s album Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall. It has also appeared on the singer’s various compilations. Moreover, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame added the song to its list of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

Listen to Jimmy Reed’s recording of the song below.

Country Version

The classic blues hymn has appealed to country and rock music artists having several covers from them. But most probably, the most notable interpretations of the song was its country version. American country music singer Sonny James recorded the song a decade later since its original release. “Bright Lights, Big City” was James’ fifteenth No. 1 hit on the country songs chart. It was included on his 1971 album called The Sensational Sonny James and appears on his other collections.

Below is a live performance of “Bright Lights, Big City” by Sonny James.

Other famed artists who covered “Bright Lights, Big City” were Bob Dylan, Neil Youngand Gary Clark, Jr., among others.

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