Song Of The Day 5/2/2016: Vic Chesnutt – “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”

Quarterly Covers Report – This dusty gem was on one of Pravda Records' three tremendously entertaining tributes to K-Tel compilations of the '70s. You had 20 Explosive Dynamic Super Smash Hit Explosions!, 20 More Explosive Fantastic Rockin' Mega Smash Hit Explosions! and the more restrained Star Power! Although these various-artist comps had plenty in the way of post-irony evisceration (like King Missile's take on Orleans' "Still the One," which was my original choice for today's SOTD but I can't find it), there were more than a few sincerely respectful recastings as well (Rex Daisy's "Welcome Back" among my favorites).

Not many of the Pravda covers were quite as artistically justified as Vic Chesnutt (1964-2009) full-on restoring Vicki Lawrence's "The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia." The song was written by Lawrence's then-husband Bobby Russell, and it's a pretty good song considering that Russell was also responsible for Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey." But Lawrence's version was a straight-up adult contemporary number, whereas the story -- which recounts two murders and an execution -- was screaming for a Southern Gothic treatment that Reba didn't deliver in her remake. Chesnutt, one of the most haunted and dark figures in American music for reasons too saddening to discuss here, brought it home.

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