Gladys Knight and the Pips – Midnight Train to Georgia

First Hit #1: October 27, 1973

This is an intriguingly triumphant song about failure. The story presented is one of a crushed dream, as a man gives up on a career and returns to his hometown. His girlfriend follows, because she loves him, in spite of basically giving up her career. It could be the plot of a depressing low-budget indie film set in a small town. But, somehow, it isn’t, and it’s because Knight doesn’t allow the content to get her down, and pushes the devotion angle far above the rather sad death of a dream angle. Through her performance, no matter what the words say, she keeps it firmly about the woman in the song and her decision to follow her boyfriend back to Georgia. No matter what she describes, no matter what happens, she is the primary focus of what’s going on, and it’s a song about the power of her love.

It’s an interesting touch, and it actually keeps the track a little mysterious, since it comes with the question, is her love going to be enough, and is that devotion going to overcome being the girlfriend to an unemployed guy in an unfamiliar place? If the girlfriend is Gladys Knight, at least, it’ll all work out.

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