Narrative songs: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia

I like songs that tell stories. Songs that have an actual plot with characters and a beginning, middle, and end. I’ll write a series of posts about these narrative songs that I like, with a link to the audio/video of the song and the lyrics transcribed for you. I’ll start with a really corny one: “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” by Vicki Lawrence.

I first heard of this song in a commercial for some lame collection of old country hits on Hotlanta 34, a local TV station that existed for a couple years during college that played a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns. This commercial ran pretty frequently on that station. One of the other songs on the CD was “Convoy.” I’ll have to post that one in the future. :)

“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” is about a man who was hanged for a crime he didn’t commit, told from the perspective of his sister. It’s totally corny but it’s a pretty good story:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

He was on his way home from Candletop.
Been two weeks gone and he thought he’d stop
at Webb’s and have him a drink ’fore he went home to her.
Andy Warlow said, “Hello.”
And he said, “Hi, what’s doin’?”
“Whoa,” he said, “sit down, I got some bad news, it’s gonna hurt.”

Said, “I’m your best friend and you know that’s right,
but your young bride ain’t home tonight—
since you’ve been gone, she’s been seeing that Amos boy, Seth.”
Well, he got mad and he saw red,
and Andy 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 Georgia.
That’s the night that they hung an innocent man.
Well, don’t trust a soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer.
’Cause the judge in the town’s got blood stains on his hands.

Andy got scared and he left the bar,
walking on home ’cause he didn’t live far.
See, Andy didn’t have many friends and he’d just lost him one.
My brother thought his wife must have left town
so he went home and finally found
the only thing Papa had left him and that was a gun.

Then he went off to Andy’s house,
slipping through the back woods quiet as a mouse,
came upon some tracks too small for Andy to make.
He looked through the screen at the back porch door
and he saw Andy lying on the floor
in a puddle of blood, and he started to shake.

Well, the Georgia patrol was a-makin’ their rounds,
so he fired a shot just to flag ’em down,
and a big-bellied sheriff grabbed his gun and said, “Why’d you do it?”
The judge said, “Guilty,” in a make-believe trial,
slapped the sheriff on the back with a smile,
said, “Supper’s waiting at home and I gotta get to it.”


Well, they hung my brother before I could say
the tracks he saw while on his way
to Andy’s house and back that night were mine.
And his cheatin’ wife had never left town,
and that’s one body that’ll never be found,
see, Little Sister don’t miss when she aims her gun.


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