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The Story Behind the Song: “Midnight Train to Georgia”

Farrah Fawcett sold a lot of posters in the 1970’s, but did you know she also inspired a multi-million dollar song?

It’s true! Her offhand comment inspired composer Jim Weatherly to write “Midnight Train to Georgia.”
But Farrah never said anything about a plane or Georgia.

The year was 1970 and Farrah was the girlfriend of TV’s Six Million-Dollar Man, Lee Major. She was at Majors’ home one afternoon when the phone rang. Lee was busy, so Fawcett answered the call. It was Majors’ friend, songwriter Jim Weatherly. As the two chatted, Farrah remarked that she was leaving that night to take the midnight plane to Houston.

After they hung up, the phrase haunted Weatherly. In less than an hour, Weatherly had his song. He recorded it for his very first solo album, but “Midnight Plane to Houston” received very little attention.

Shortly thereafter, another record producer called asking if he could use the song for an album he was working on with R&B singer Cissy Houston. When Weatherly said okay, the producer asked if he could make a slight change in the song’s title. He wanted to change to location of the song to Georgia to avoid singer Houston’s name also appearing in the song’s title. He also wanted to change the plane to a train, thinking that mode of transportation would resonated better with the R&B audience.

The changes were made, but Cissy’s version also garnered little airplay.

Finally, in 1973, Gladys Knights & the Pips decided to record an entire album of Weatherly’s songs. One of the tunes they picked was “Midnight Train to Georgia.” It roared to the top of both the pop and the R&B charts and became one of Knight’s signature songs.

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