Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Midnight Train To Georgia

by

Gladys Knight & the Pips



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was written and originally recorded by Jim Weatherly, who had a solo hit in 1974 with "The Need To Be." Weatherly explained the origin of this song in an interview with Gary James: "the song actually came about after a phone call I had with Farrah Fawcett. Lee Majors was a friend of mine. We'd played in the Flag Football League together in L.A. He had just started dating Farrah. One day I called Lee and Farrah answered the phone. We were just talking and she said she was packing. She was gonna take the midnight plane to Houston to visit her folks. So, it just stayed with me. After I got off the phone, I sat down and wrote the song probably in about 30 to 45 minutes. Something like that. Didn't take me long at all, 'cause I actually used Farrah and Lee as kind of like characters I guess. A girl that comes to L.A. to make it and doesn't make it and leaves to go back home. The guy goes back with her. Pretty simple little story, but it felt real to me. It felt honest to me. I played it for them and they loved it. I cut it on my first album as 'Midnight Plane To Houston.' And then later on, maybe a year or six months later, a guy in Atlanta wanted to cut the song on Cissy Houston, Whitney's mother. They called and said they would like a more R&B sounding title and asked if we would mind if they changed the title to 'Midnight Train To Georgia' [so that "Houston" wouldn't appear in both the title and artist name]. We said 'change anything but the writer and publisher.' So, he cut the song on Cissy Houston and it was a nice little cross between an R&B and Country record. It got on the R&B charts. That's the version that Gladys heard. Some of the background vocals you hear on Glady's records were first on Cissy Houston's record. It wasn't as much, but just some of the feel of the background vocals. And of course Gladys' record was more of a groove-oriented thing. It wasn't as slow. It just became a monster record."
Gladys Knight & The Pips recorded Weatherly's "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)" in 1973 and released it as a kiss-off record as their contract to Motown Recording Company (Soul Record) was expiring. "Neither One of Us" was their biggest Motown/Soul hit, reaching #2 as the group signed with Buddha Records. When they decided to record an album consisting of only Jim Weatherly songs (Imagination), his publisher sent a copy of the song to Knight. This was the second single from the album, after "Where Peaceful Waters Flow." It became the group's biggest hit. The third and fourth singles off the album didn't do too badly either - "I've Got to Use My Imagination" peaked at #4 in the US, "Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me" #3.
"Midnight Train To Georgia" was not only a #1 hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B, but also a #10 on the UK Singles chart. It garnered the group the 1974 Grammy Award for "Best R&B Vocal Performance" and was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. It is considered Gladys Knight's signature song.
This title is name-checked in Billy Crystal's 1989 TV special Midnight Train to Moscow.
Films and television shows in which "Midnight Train To Georgia" is part of the soundtrack include The Deer Hunter, 30 Rock, House M.D., Broadcast News, and Las Vegas. It also gets its day in the sun in the 1974 episode of VH1's I Love the '70s: Volume 2. Richard Pryor (we still miss him) also used it in his 1977 special.
You might ask what, exactly, a "pip" is besides Knight's backing singers. Well, a 'pip' is casino/gaming jargon for the spots on a die or domino. So when you're at a craps table and you roll a "hard 8" on the dice, that means that there's four pips showing on the face of each die, as opposed to an "easy 8" which would be the statistically more common 2-6 or 3-5 combinations of pips.
Other songs involving trains include "Last Train To Clarksville," "City Of New Orleans", "Love Train", "Runaway Train", and of course Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'", which also has a "midnight train." Train themes seem to be most popular in Folk music and R&B.
This song has special relevance when you consider 21st century online dating, which unites partners over the internet who are separated by a great distance. The decision the protagonist has to make, choosing to move to Georgia to "live in his world," is a common one that people have to eventually face if they start a long-distance relationship.
Gladys Knight & the Pips
More Gladys Knight & the Pips songs
More songs with U.S. states in the title
More songs with methods of transportation in the title
More hit songs originally recorded by other artists

Comments (25):

Gladys & The Pips jump-started my interest in R&B in the Seventies. I was a kid back then & shifted from punk rock to R&B because of Gladys & Them Pips. Gotta love 'em. And this is the song that did it for me. I sorta drifted away from R&B lately, but my 8th wife "Phosphorina" still loves classic R&B. She gloats over me by saying she saw Gladys Knight & The Pips at The Apollo in New York City some decades ago. One of the classiest acts in the business. I miss them and wish they still were performing. But they all must be really up in age now....or gone. Me & Phosphorina are no "spring chickens" ourselves any more, but we still love this big hit.
- Rocky, TULSA, OK
Love this #1 hit by Gladys Knight & The Pimps. I heard this for the 1st time on a Sirius Golden Oldies station recently. I'm 16 years old & the song came out way way before I was born. But I love it. My Dad even has several of Gladys's albums & singles from way-back-when! I'm learning more about Gladys Knight & The Pimps from Dad & Mom's album collections from the Seventies. And some of the other great past R&B and Rock acts. Besides Gladys & Her Pimps, I found old albums by The Coasters, Little Eva, The Association, and Chubby Checker. What a gold mine! But I really love the music of Gladys & The Pimps.
- Randy , Fayettevile, AR
Gladys Knight & The Pips!! My favorite of the Seventies. I remember when Gladys went on to a movie career & then The Pips were on their own. I still loved them all. My Mom & Dad say they bought Gladys & The Pips' earliest hit "Every Beat of My Heart" way back in the late Fifties (or early Sixties?). Gladys has a great voice. And those harmonies by The Pips are "outa sight."
- Rotunda, Tulsa, OK
When "Midnight Train to Georgia" was #1 on the charts, I was a little kid and now this brings back good memories of the record being played in our home and my older brothers & sisters dancing slow to it. What special memories, because they're all gone now. I will always love this song and Gladys Knight and The Pimps.
- BubblesK, Memphis, TN
@Jay - Actually the song was originally Midnight Plane to Houston by Jim Weatherly. It was changed for Cissy
Houston (Whitney's mother), ironically to what we know know as MTTG. That was an entire year before GK&TP sang it.
- Eric, Lorena, TX
I remember this song from listening to the radio as I commuted to college (Cal State Fullerton) from home in the early 1970's. Jim Weatherly wrote several other hit songs for Gladys Knight & The Pips, which I also caught on the radio in those days. However, I was not aware of the Farrah connection until I was driving home one night from shopping in June 1979. I heard the song on a local "oldies" station and the disc jockey related the story. It was very touching. This was right after Farrah's cancer documentary "Farrah's Story" and just before she died of the disease.
- Tom, Riverside, CA
Good song. My mom has this one her iPod. Also there was a scene where House, Chase, and Foreman sang this at a bar. Hilarious performance.
- JR, Bloomington, IN
Woohoo. I too only noticed it recently. It made me revisit what I now think is one of the best songs ever written. The Pips turn this from being a good song into a great song. They're a cynical alter ego who say the things that Gladys can't bring herself to: "A superstar but he didn't get far". And of course, they're so upset when he has to sell his car. Not.
- David, Bristol, United Kingdom
HA! I never picked up that the woohoo sound The Pips make was supposed to be the train. That makes me like this song even more.
- Crystal, Lawrence, KS
There's no midnight train leaving L.A. to Georgia. The closest one leaves at 2:30 in the afternoon. Sorry Gladys, but he must have been going somewhere else and just lied to you.
- Paul, Los Angeles, CA
i can remember as a little girl listening to this song with my older sisters, and have always loved it. and still do, it is and always will be one of the greastesT songs ever written and sang by one of the most beautiful and most talented people onthe face of GODS mother earth. God bless all who love gladys knightand the pips.and God bless and always walk with you gladys!
- virginia, elk city, OK
This will always be a classic song and it brings back memories for so many of us. If you can't say something nice, why do you have to make nasty comments, Carolina in London? Are you jealous because this song is American? I love music from different countries, and I have no need to comment on music that I don't like. It's just like art; some people like it, some people don't. I just wish you would go to other songs rather than make ugly comments. Thank you.
- Tammy, Denver, CO
I know of at least one child named Georgia because of this song.
- Ann, Baltimore, MD
yeah definitly one of those songs on everyone's "when i'm driving alone" CDs haha a classic song even though the pips have less words than Ron Maclean on Coach's Corner they truly create the song's soul
- nathan, from the country of, Canada
In an interview Gladys said when she heard the title was "Midnight Plane To Houston" she said "I'm from Georgia, I don't know anything about airplanes or Houston, TX", so they changed the title to something she said she was more comfortable with - trains and Georgia.
- Jay, Atlanta, GA
The pips were her brother Merlad her cousins William Guest and Langston George.
- Jay, Atlanta, GA
I've gone as far as doing "Midnight Train To Georgia" with a few friends in a Karaoke bar. It is always listed in my top five. But, what are the Pips' lyrics. I never find them printed.
- Mike, Eldersburg, MD
If you ever want a good laugh while enjoying this song in the car, sing only the Pips backup vocals. Try not to crack up, especially when the Pips get to the part where they sing "whoo whoo" to simulate the train. Classic stuff.
- Patrick, Philadelphia, PA
Gladys Knight is the second greatest singer of all time next to Mahilia Jackson. She blew her heart out in Midnight train to Georgia. She has a velvet voice. When I first heard this song, I cried. Her voice is really divine. Nobody can do it like Gladys.
- harold, columbus, OH
Why does she wanna take a midnight train to my state???
- AJ, Cleveland, GA
she still tours apparently but ,not many pips left

its just Gladys Knight and a Pip
- pete, nowra, Australia
I think this is a beaultiful, precious song. Everything...the lyrics the mood, the vocals, the musicianship (the bass-whew!. You can see the influence that this bass playing had on Paul McCartney.
- Brian, Sydney, Canada
Ew. American Idol? Gross.
- Carolina, London, England
My mom was one of the first people to hear this. As she met the guy that mixed it the day after it was recorded...
- Conrad, Los Angeles, CA
Really a beautiful song. It was great to see Gladys Knight getting her props when she was a guest on American Idol.
- Stoddard, Burlington, VT
You have to to post comments.
Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")
Phil was a songwriter, producer and voice behind many Philadelphia soul classics. When disco hit, he got an interesting project: The Village People.
Gary Brooker of Procol HarumGary Brooker of Procol Harum
The lead singer and pianist for Procol Harum, Gary talks about finding the musical ideas to match the words.
Benny MardonesBenny Mardones
His song "Into The Night" is one of the most-played of all time. For Benny, it took him to hell and back.
Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"
Ian talks about his 3 or 4 blatant attempts to write a pop song, and also the ones he most connected with, including "Locomotive Breath."