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Song Sequels: What Happened After The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vicki Lawrence, of the Carol Burnett Show and Mama's Family, had a No. 1 hit with 'The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia' in 1973. Vicki Lawrence, of the Carol Burnett Show and Mama's Family, had a No. 1 hit with "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" in 1973. But what happened next?

One recent afternoon in the Soundcheck office, we got to talking about great songs -- and how they leave you hungry for more. And that got us to talking about… sequels. Sequels are common in Hollywood, maybe too common if you ask some people. And outside of Godfather II or Empire Strikes Back, rarely are they better than the original. But songwriters rarely opt to write the next chapter or a continuation of their great songs.

So, we're gonna do it for them, and we’ve enlisted some help: Mario Correa, a writer and a co-host of Entertainment Weekly Radio on Sirius XM, and Mo Rocca, a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, frequent voice on NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, and host of My Grandmother’s Ravioli on the Cooking Channel.

In a conversation with Soundcheck producer Joel Meyer, Correa and Rocca each pitch a few sequel ideas to some songs that could maybe use a part two.

Cher, "Dark Lady" (1973)

In the original, a woman goes to a fortune teller (the "Dark Lady" in question), then finds that the fortune teller is sleeping with her (the woman’s) husband. Naturally, the woman shoots and kills them both.


Harry Chapin, "Taxi" (1974)

In the original, a taxi driver picks up a woman whom he realizes he once dated. (Or so he says!) They compare notes on their lives since then and bemoan how neither of them got what they wanted… or did they?!? She tells him to keep the change. Interestingly, Chapin wrote a sequel to the song himself.


Vicki Lawrence, "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" (1973)

Possibly the most complicated narrative ever recorded, the original "Night" is about a woman whose brother is hanged for a murder that she herself committed -- a murder of her sister-in-law, who was cheating on her brother was executed for the crime, best we can tell. It’s so over-the-top complicated that just recounting the story of the original is challenge. (Now try crafting a sequel.) The fact that Vicki Lawrence of Carol Burnett Show/Mama’s Family fame had a No. 1 hit with it is icing on the cake.


Mario Correa and Mo Rocca

Comments [4]

Paul Glover

They ought to make a movie about "The Night the Lights went out in Georgia" but this time use the real story. It is much more interesting than what the writer used in the first movie. Come to think of it they actually ought to re-write the song with the real details. I know the families(all deceased) that the story is about. Maybe this is why they altered the story somewhat; out of respect for those in the families that were still living at the time. I even know where he is buried. Maybe I'll write the story and song myself!

Nov. 01 2014 02:12 AM
Allan Richardson from Marietta, Georgia

I for one am hoping for and working for a real life sequel, "Time to Turn the Lights Back ON in Georgia," by electing Michelle Nunn to the Senate and Jason Carter as Governor. It would really be cool if the copyright owners allowed someone creative in the campaign to write and perform updated lyrics as a campaignsong!

Jun. 11 2014 05:15 PM
Patrick from Savannah, GA

I enjoy listening to Sound Check and it brings on interesting topics. For a sequel to "The Night the Lights went out in Georgia" I have a different sequel. She changes her name to Loretta and moves to a town called Millhaven in which she continues to murder until she gets caught and she bares all the murders she committed. This is covered in the song "The Curse of Millhaven" on the Murder Ballads by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

May. 14 2014 10:20 PM
Mary from New Jersey.

I love sound check it is often one of the highlights of my day. However this segment is a shining example of why John Shaeffer should never be allowed to go on vacation. this one was silly beyond belief and made my head hurt.

Apr. 24 2014 10:29 AM

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