While states like Connecticut and Delaware didn't seem to inspire songwriters the same way as California, nothing prepared me for the enthusiasm that meets Georgia. When songwriters write about Georgia, they do so with an emphasis on concept. They just don't lame out with "Georgia Rain" or "Georgia Sunshine," but settle in for actual details. Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup had a song called "Going Back To Georgia," while the Blues Magoos decided they were "Never Goin' Back To Georgia." That's why we're still considered a free country, even if sometimes when you're paying your taxes it doesn't feel all that free.
Anyhow, many of these tunes have been covered many times over, proving that many people love to do what many others have already done. If 1,000 people can cover "Yesterday," why shouldn't 200 give "Georgia On My Mind" a shot? But, seriously, why so many?
The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia"--Vicki Lawrence: Apparently one of Georgia's great selling points is the consistency of its electrical transmission system. I've lived in places where a strong wind knocked out the power for four hours. Note this song is not called The Nights but rather it points to a singular night, one that shocked all of Georgia. I'm sure Georgians often shake their heads in disbelief when their neighbors in South Carolina or Florida lose their power, safe in the knowledge that it won't happen to them. But that one night! What a memory.
"The Devil Went Down To Georgia"--The Charlie Daniels Band: The only thing I remember about this song is that at some point in it the phrase "Son of a bitch" is uttered and if you were listening on AM radio when I was growing up sometimes they'd bleep it and sometimes they wouldn't. And if that isn't a reason to listen to a tune, well then you've never experienced the joy of getting caught up in the "funky tricks" going down in the city that was the radio-edit of Steve Miller's "Jet Airliner."
Rainy Night In Georgia"--Brook Benton: Now, see. They didn't go for the obvious "Georgia Rain" here, they placed the emphasis on it being a Rainy Night without stating "I Love A Rainy Night," though, of course, Eddie Rabbitt would take care of that matter. From what I'm told, it rains a normal amount in Georgia, unlike Los Angeles where they have to declare a state of emergency since no one's ever sure why it's happening.
"Georgia"--Boz Scaggs: This doesn't really sound like a song about Georgia, either the state or a woman thus named. This sounds like a song where people do cocaine off a glass table waiting for the feds to bust in. The sleek groove has "condo living" screaming from its every beat. Maybe even a purple carpet. Definitely some velvet upholstery, a guy with a silk shirt unbuttoned down to his navel with chest hair and gold jewelry gleaming. Is this Georgia? Maybe the new Georgia. Which sounds suspiciously like old Florida. Ah, migration!
Georgia On My Mind"--Ray Charles: I've sat in enough bars to hear this song murdered by well-intentioned folks. Granted, once in a while someone does it justice, but those people are few. Usually it's some guy who was encouraged by his relatives at a young age to take his incessant screaming and channel it into something more productive. "You sure are loud!" should not be taken as a sign that you were meant to take the stage and give the world your all. Stop this vicious cycle of fruitless encouragement. Scream back at your children instead.