Vicki Lawrence – “The Night the Light’s Went Out in Georgia”

This song tells the tale of a man who finds out from his friend Andy that his wife had cheated on him with both Andy and a guy named Seth. This being Georgia, he gets a gun and sets out to kill Andy, but when he gets there Andy is already dead. The police show up, arrest him for killing Andy and he is hanged. The singer then reveals that she is the man’s sister and that she shot Andy and killed her brother’s wife.

This was the only hit for Lawrence. She was an actress on The Carol Burnett Show and starred in Mama’s Family. She briefly had her own talk show, called Vicki!

Released in 1973 on the album titled, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,”  the song peaked #1 on the US Billboards.

According to Songracts, the song was written by Bobby Russell, who was Lawrence’s husband at the time. They divorced soon after this was released. Russell also wrote “Honey,” which was a hit in 1968 for Bobby Goldsboro. He died of a heart attack in 1992.

Russell didn’t think much of this song when he wrote it and couldn’t find anyone to record it. Lawrence liked it and recorded a demo of it. Producer Snuff Garrett decided she should do the song and recorded it with her.

This was offered to Cher, but Sonny Bono thought it would offend Cher’s Southern fans and turned it down on her behalf. Cher didn’t know until years later that she was offered the song.

The song was the basis for a movie of the same name in 1981 starring Kristy McNichol. The version used for the soundtrack was sung by Tanya Tucker and has alternate lyrics to fit the plot of the film.

Reba McEntire recorded a version in 1991 that was a Country hit. In her version of the song, she uses the word “Daddy” instead of “Papa,” 


Song Lyrics – 

He was on his way home from Candletop.
(He’d)Been two weeks gone and he thought he’d stop
At Webb’s and have him a drink ‘fore he went home to her.
Andy Wardlow said, “Hello.”
And he said, “Hi, what’s doin’, Wo?”
He said, “Sit down, I got some bad news that’s gonna hurt.”
He said, “I’m your best friend and you know that’s right,
But your young bride ain’t home tonight.
Since you been gone she’s been seein’ that aimless boy, Seth.”

Well, he got mad ‘n’ he saw red.
And Andy said, “Boy, don’tcha lose your head,
‘Cause to tell ya the truth, I been with her myself.”

That’s the night that the lights went out in Georgia.
That’s the night that they hung an innocent man.
Well, don’t trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer
‘Cause the judge in the town’s got bloodstains on his hands.

Well, Andy got scared and left the bar
(And went) Walkin’ on home ’cause he didn’t live far.
(You) See, Andy didn’t have many friends and he’d just lost him one.
(And) Brother thought his wife must’a left town,
So he went home and finally found
The only thing Papa had left him and that was a gun.
And he went off to Andy’s house,
Slippin’ through the backwoods quiet as a mouse–
Came upon some tracks too small for Andy to make.
He looked through the screen at the back-porch door,
And he saw Andy lyin’ on the floor
In a puddle of blood. And he started to shake.

Well, the Georgia Patrol was a’makin’ their rounds,
So he fired a shot just to flag ’em down,
And a big-bellied sheriff grabbed his gun and said, “Why’d ya do it?”
And the judge said, “Guilty,” in a make-believe trial,
Slapped the sheriff on the back with a smile,
And said, “Supper’s waitin’ at home, and I gotta get to it.”


Well, they hung my brother before I could say
That the tracks he saw while on his way
To Andy’s house, outback, that night was mine.
And his cheatin’ wife had never left town;
And that’s one body that’ll never be found!
See, little sister don’t miss when she aims her gun.

That’s the night that the lights went out in Georgia.
That’s the night that they hung an innocent man.
Well, don’t trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer

‘Cause the judge in the town’s got bloodstains on his hands.


Written by: Bobby Russell

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4 thoughts on “Vicki Lawrence – “The Night the Light’s Went Out in Georgia”

    1. I remember her on that show as well. She is amazing, a great actress, comedian, and singer. A triple threat!
      This song was always sad to me, and I could just picture it playing out in my head. I saw the movie with Kristy McNichol and Dennis Quaid. When I first saw her singing this song, I couldn’t believe it was her either, but she has an amazing voice.

        1. Yes, they sure did call her Carol’s sister. When I want to go back in time a little bit, I tune into TV Land and it takes me right back to a simpler time.

          I hope you’re having a great day and getting some beautiful weather up in your neck of the woods. It looks as though we are getting ready to get some rain here. Have a great rest of your day!