Saturday, October 27, 1973

“Midnight Train to Georgia” hit #1

Midnight Train to Georgia

Gladys Knight & the Pips

Writer(s): Jim Weatherly (see lyrics here)

First Charted: August 25, 1973

Peak: 12 BB, 11 CB, 3 GR, 11 HR, 2 RR, 19 AC, 14 RB, 10 UK, 14 CN, 52 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 45.58 video, 295.27 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The song started out as “Midinght Plane to Houston” in 1970. It was inspired by a phone conversation songwriter Jim Weatherly had with actress Farrah Fawcett. He’d called to talk to his friend Lee Majors, who’d just started dating Fawcett. He wasn’t home and she explained that she was packing to go visit her parents – she was taking a midnight plane to Houston. After getting off the phone, Weatherly spent 45 minutes writing a song RC which he explained “was about a girl that comes to LA to be successful but maybe she’s not successful but the guy loves her and goes home with her.” TC

Cissy Houston recorded the song in 1972. She described it as “a country ballad that told a good story – about two people in love.” MM However, she wanted to change the title, saying “my people are originally from Georgia, and they didn’t take planes…they took trains.” MM The song also underwent a change in becoming about a woman following her man back to Georgia after his failure to become a star. Her version wasn’t a hit, but in the hands of the Pips it would become their only #1 on the pop charts.

Gladys Knight & the Pips formed in 1952 when she was eight years old. Her siblings Bubba and Brenda and their cousins William and Eleanor Guest rounded out the group, originally known just as The Pips. By 1955, they were performing around Atlanta on the talent show circuit and in 1957 they signed a record contract with Brunswick Records. Two years later, the label dropped the group.

The Pips would go through different members, have a a hit with “Every Beat of My Heart” in 1961 (#6 BB, #1 RB), and another label before signing with Motown in 1966. They picked up two more top-ten pop hits/#1 R&B songs with “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “If I Were Your Woman” before leaving the label for Buddha Records in 1973.

The group recorded Weatherly’s song “Neither One of Us Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye” and it reached #2 on the pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts. The group asked Weatherly if he had any more songs and he gave them “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Knight said she loved Cissy’s version but wanted “an Al Green thing going…something moody with…horns, keyboards, and other instruments to create texture and spark something in me.” MM

She also changed some lyrics with Weatherly’s blessing and gave it some gospel ad-libs. She struggled with the latter so in the recording studio her brother Bubba fed her lines into her headset. MM It became the fifth R&B chart-topper for the Pips. Critic and author Dave Marsh called it “the best vocal performance of Gladys Knight’s career.” DM


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First posted 1/14/2024.

Saturday, October 20, 1973

The Rolling Stones’ “Angie” hit #1


The Rolling Stones

Writer(s): Mick Jagger, Keith Richards (see lyrics here)

Released: August 20, 1973

First Charted: September 1, 1973

Peak: 11 US, 1 1 CB, 15 GR, 1 2 HR, 1 4 RR, 38 AC, 1 CL, 5 UK, 15 CN, 1 5 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 1.2 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 189.32 video, 316.49 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

At a time when the Rolling Stones typical material “was hard and aggressive,” SF this was “a numb-but-sensitive breakup ballad, a plea for everything to be over.” SG It is “one of the better Rolling Stones’ ballads with a lush melody and a very vulnerable Mick Jagger.” TC The song was written primarily by guitarist Keith Richards FB “about the end stages of a relationship, the time when you’re still in love but making each other miserable. It’s written and sung with sad empathy.” SG

Cynically, it can be viewed as “a song directly targeted to the Stones’ female fans who wanted to view them as broken angels rather than amoral libertine wanderers.” SG However, it “was the song that the Stones needed at that moment. It was…their last grand-scale pop moment for a while.” SG It would be five years before they’d reach the top of the charts again.

As for the song’s subject, there are different rumors. One is that David Bowie’s wife Angela caught her husband in bed with Jagger and the Stones bribed her to keep quiet by writing a song for her. Another suggests that it was about Anita Pallenberg, Richards’ longtime girlfriend. It’s also been said it was about actress Angie Dickinson.

In his autobiography Life, Richards said he wrote it while in a Swiss rehab facility when his withdrawl symptoms starting wearing off and he could move his fingers again well enough to strum his guitar. “Anita was down the road having our daughter.” SF She was named Dandelion Angela, although Richards says the song “was not about any particular person…I didn’t know Angela was going to be called Angela when I wrote ‘Angie.’ In those days you didn’t know what sex the thing was going to be until it popped out.” SF


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First posted 10/26/2021; last updated 9/19/2023.

Friday, October 19, 1973

The Wailers released Burnin’


The Wailers

Released: October 19, 1973

Peak: 151 US, 41 RB

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.06 UK, 2.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: reggae


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Get Up, Stand Up (9/73, --)
  2. Hallelujah Time
  3. I Shot the Sheriff (2/12/1973, --)
  4. Burnin’ and Lootin’
  5. Put It On (4/66, --)
  6. Small Axe (2/71, --)
  7. Pass It On
  8. Duppy Conqueror (12/70, --)
  9. One Foundation
  10. Rastaman Chant

Total Running Time: 38:28

The Players:

  • Bob Marley (vocals, guitar)
  • Peter Tosh (guitar, vocals, keyboards)
  • Bunny Wailer (percussion, vocals)
  • Aston “Family Man” Barrett (bass)
  • Carlton “Carlie” Barrett (drums)
  • Earl Lindo (keyboards)


4.079 out of 5.00 (average of 22 ratings)

Quotable: --

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Burnin', was the Wailers “second for Island Records, released only six months after its predecessor, Catch a Fire. Given that speed, it's not surprising that several tracks — Put It On, Small Axe, and Duppy Conqueror — are re-recordings of songs dating back a few years. But they fit in seamlessly with the newer material, matching its religious militancy and anthemic style.” AMG

“The confrontational nature of the group's message is apparent immediately in the opening track, Get Up, Stand Up, as stirring a song as any that emerged from the American Civil Rights movement a decade before. The Wailers are explicit in their call to violence, a complete reversal from their own 1960s ‘Simmer Down’ philosophy. Here, on Burnin’ and Lootin’, they take issue with fellow Jamaican Jimmy Cliff's song of the previous year, ‘Many Rivers to Cross,’ asking impatiently, ‘How many rivers do we have to cross/Before we can talk to the boss?’” AMG

I Shot the Sheriff, the album’s most celebrated song, which became a number one hit in the hands of Eric Clapton in 1974, claims self-defense, admits consequences (‘If I am guilty I will pay’), and emphasizes the isolated nature of the killing (‘I didn't shoot no deputy’), but its central image is violent.” AMG

“Such songs illuminated the desperation of poor Jamaican life, but they also looked forward to religious salvation, their themes accentuated by the compelling rhythms and the alternating vocals of the three singers. Bob Marley was a first among equals, of course, and after this album his partners, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, quit the group, which thereafter was renamed Bob Marley and the Wailers.” AMG

Notes: The 2001 reissue adds three bonus tracks – “Reincarnated Souls,” “No Sympathy,” and “The Oppressed Song” – all by “Tosh and Wailer, though recorded at the album's sessions” (Ruhlmann). The 2004 Deluxe Edition adds a second live disc recorded 11/23/73.

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First posted 3/26/2008; updated 5/10/2021.