Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Midnight Train to Georgia

Written and first recorded (as “Midnight Plane to Houston”) by Jim Weatherly (1972).
Hit versions by Cissy Houston (R&B #45 1973), Gladys Knight & The Pips (US #1/R&B #1/UK #10 1973).

From the wiki: “The song was originally written and performed by Jim Weatherly (‘(You’re the) Best Thing That Ever Happened‘) under the title ‘Midnight Plane to Houston’, recorded for Amos Records.

“‘It was based on a conversation I had with somebody… about taking a midnight plane to Houston,’ Weatherly recalls. ‘I wrote it as a kind of a country song. Then we sent the song to a guy named Sonny Limbo in Atlanta and he wanted to cut it with Cissy Houston (mother of Whitney Houston) … He asked if I minded if he changed the title to ‘Midnight Train to Georgia.’ And I said, I don’t mind. Just don’t change the rest of the song.’ Houston took Weatherly’s song into the R&B chart under the title ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’.

“Weatherly’s publisher then forwarded the song to Gladys Knight and the Pips, who followed Houston’s lead and kept the title ‘Midnight Train to Georgia.’ The song was included on the Pips’ 1973 album Imagination. After topping the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts in 1973, ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ would go to win the 1974 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance (By A Duo, Group Or Chorus).

“In 1999, ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. Rolling Stone ranked it #432 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

Cissy Houston, “Midnight Train to Georgia” (1973):

Gladys Knight & The Pips, “Midnight Train to Georgia” (1974):