Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Midnight Train Ride

Today in Music History: October 27


When it comes to soul (R&B), some of the best songs center around the train as music and lyrics takes us back to times past when East Meets West. In fact, what could possibly be more nostalgic than reflections upon the train and comparing a train ride with the walks of life. The evolution of the train is much like life, its journey through time collects treasured memories of people and places as it stops and goes from one station to another. Have you ever thought about comparing life to a train ride or a series of train rides (Life on the Train)? Today's spotlight is on a soul group whose signature song is about a midnight train ride.



Gladys Knight and the Pips One of the most respected and longest-lived soul groups, Gladys Knight and the Pips boast hits spanning four decades. Their chart records scored higher than ever during the mid-1970s with a smoother, more accessible sound, a hit album, Imagination (1973) and three gold singles: "I've Got to Use My Imagination," "Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me" and the Grammy Award-winning No. 1 hit "Midnight Train to Georgia" (Best R&B Vocal Performance), which is the focus music for today in history.

1973 Gladys Knight and the Pips started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Midnight Train To Georgia'. It was the group's 18th Top 40 hit and first No.1. The record won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus and has become Knight's signature song.
Other songs involving trains include "Last Train To Clarksville," "City Of New Orleans", "Love Train", "Runaway Train", and of course Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'", which also has a "midnight train." Train themes seem to be most popular in folk music and R&B.

  • You might ask what, exactly, a "pip" is besides Knight's backing singers. Well, a 'pip' is casino/gaming jargon for the spots on a die or domino. So when you're at a craps table and you roll a "hard 8" on the dice, that means that there's four pips showing on the face of each die, as opposed to an "easy 8" which would be the statistically more common 2-6 or 3-5 combinations of pips.

  • Films and television shows in which "Midnight Train To Georgia" is part of the soundtrack include The Deer Hunter, 30 Rock, House M.D., Broadcast News, and Las Vegas. It also gets its day in the sun in the 1974 episode of VH1's I Love the '70s: Volume 2. Richard Pryor (we still miss him) also used it in his 1977 special.
  • This song has special relevance when you consider 21st century online dating, which unites partners over the internet who are separated by a great distance. The decision the protagonist has to make, choosing to move to Georgia to "live in his world," is a common one that people have to eventually face if they start a long-distance relationship.

And the musicgoes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...





Soul Related Articles:

The Sultan of Smooth Soul

Sound of Soul!

The Godfather of Soul