March 24

The Story Behind Reba McEntire’s “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia”

Reba McEntire’s “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” explores the tale of betrayal and murder.

It was written by songwriter Bobby Russell and was originally recorded by American pop singer and comedian Vicki Lawrence as the title track of her 1973 album – wherein it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Nearly two decades later, the murder ballad became a hit once again! Thanks to Reba McEntire, who released the song off her 1991 album, For My Broken Heart. Her version then peaked at No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs.

 “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia,” tells the tale of a man who came home from a two-week trip only to be informed by his best friend Andy Wo-Lo that his young wife has been cheating on him. Apparently, his wife was having an affair with “that Amos boy, Seth” while he has been away. 

As the man was losing his head with his friend’s news, Andy has also confessed that he had been with the man’s wife too.

The man was so furious he was determined to kill Andy. Thinking his wife must have left the town, he went home to get his gun. However, when he got into Andy’s place, he “came upon some tracks too small for Andy to make.” And when he peeked through the door, he found his friend lying dead on the floor. 

The man got so nervous he fired a shot in the air, trying to get the attention of the Georgia Patrol that was making their rounds. However, the man ended up being arrested for murdering Andy. Eventually, he was declared guilty and was sentenced to death by hanging. 

As the song is about to end, the narrator revealed herself as the man’s sister. And in such an unexpected twist, she confessed that the small tracks the man found in Andy’s place were hers, and she had killed Andy with her own gun. Moreover, the man’s unfaithful wife turned out to have never left the town. She has also killed her and disposed of her body where she’s certain no one will ever find it!

Although it was Bobby Russell who solely wrote the song, he didn’t like it and was even not willing to record a demonstration. Vicki Lawrence, who was Russell’s wife at that time, knew the song’s going to be a hit; so, she volunteered to record the demo.

The song – which wasn’t country nor pop – was pitched to different singers, including Cher, whose then-husband and manager reportedly refused. He was afraid that it might upset Cher’s southern fans. 

With no singer to record “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia,” Lawrence decided to make the recording herself. Since then, the song was covered by a number of artists, including Tanya Tucker, in 1981 and eventually becoming one of Reba McEntire’s songs.

You can listen to Reba McEntire’s “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” in the video below.


Reba McEntire

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