August 3rd is National Georgia Day, and what better way to celebrate than with a playlist of amazing songs which captures what people love about the Peach State?
When you think of Georgia and music, this song is likely one of the first to come to mind.
"Georgia On My Mind" by Ray Charles, a native of Georgia born in Albany, where a statue of Charles, created by Andy Davis, sits in Ray Charles Plaza. This song is actually a cover of the song written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell in the 1930s and would become Charles' first No. 1 hit. In 1979 the State of Georgia adopted the song as the official state song, and Charles' rendition would become the most widely known version.
“The Devil Went Down To Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band tells the story of Johnny, a fiddle player, who agrees to bet his soul in a fiddle contest with the Devil. The song is an amazing ride of fiddles, piano, drums, and fast-paced lyrics that reached No 1. on the country charts and No. 3 on Billboards Hot 100. The song has been cover and parodied numerous times and featured in many movies and shows.
“Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight & The Pips would be the second release and first No. 1 song for the group. Included on the 1973 album Imagination, the song was originally written and performed by Jim Weatherly as "Midnight Plane to Houston." The title would be changed, and Cissy Houston, gospel singer and mother of Whitney Houston would be the first to record "Midnight Train to Georgia."
“The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” by Reba McEntire is the best-known version, but actress Vicky Lawrence initially sang the song. Written by Lawrence's husband, Bobby Russell, the song would top the charts in 1973 and was included on her same-titled album. The song was a Southern Gothic murder ballad, and McEntire's music video would play out a mini-movie of the story with a twist ending. As Eddie (Chris Penn) in Reservoir Dogs notes, "...this is the first time I ever realized that the girl singin' the song is the one who shot Andy."
Songs about the state of Georgia
"Sweet Georgia Brown" by Brother Bones and His Shadows tells of a girl named Georgia who was named after the state. Composed in 1925 by Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard, with lyrics by Kenneth Casey, it has seen many renditions over the years, with Brother Bones and His Shadows becoming the most well know. This version of the song would become the theme song of the Harlem Globetrotters.
“Chattahoochee” by Alan Jackson is about childhood memories along the banks of the river in northern Georgia that flows south, bordering Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. Jackson would receive the CMA for Single of the Year and Song of the Year from his album, A Lot About Livin' (And A Little 'Bout Love), whose name comes from the song's lyrics. The song would hit No. 1 on Hot Country Hits. The song harkens back to a simpler time growing up in a small town along the banks of the river while having fun and falling in love.
“Georgia Peaches” by Lynyrd Skynyrd is a quintessential Southern Rock song about a man who enjoys looking at beautiful women from Georgia. This song was featured on Legend, a posthumous release containing unreleased demos before the 1977 plane crash.
“Walkin’ Back to Georgia” by Jim Croce was included on his album You Don't Mess Around With Jim from 1972. The song describes a longing for the state while recalling good times in Macon after he becomes down on his luck. In 2022, Butch Walker, Elizabeth Cook, and Katie Pruitt would perform a one-time-only collaboration of the song for the benefit of the Georgia Music Foundation. It would become so popular they would record their version.
It is genuinely surprising to discover how many songs talk of Georgia, so many that this list could go on for quite some time. Instead, below is a great playlist of songs to enjoy.
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