The other night I had the good fortune to sit and talk with Jim Weatherly. Weatherly is a member of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. During the 1960s’ he also was a quarterback for the Ole Miss Rebels. As he waited to go on stage he shared with me an interesting story about one of his song writing successes.
Following his college days, he joined a rock-‘n’- roll band and headed to California. Early on in his time in California he met up with a young aspiring actor in a pickup football game, and they became friends. The actor went on to become very successful in TV and the movies; that actor was Lee Majors. One day Weatherly called Major’s apartment and Major’s girlfriend answered the phone. The girlfriend had come to California from Texas to be with Majors. She told Weatherly she was packing her bags and going home, taking the midnight plane back to Texas.
Weatherly tells the story that after he hung up the phone he immediately sat down and penned a song he entitled, “Midnight Plane to Houston.” He said “Just hearing Major’s girlfriend say that phrase, I’m going home to Texas on the midnight plane, sparked the lyrics that he wrote in just a few minutes. Shortly thereafter, Weatherly cut a demo on the song, which he thought was a bad demo. Through some means that he never understood completely, a young female singer’s producer in Atlanta heard the bad demo. He called Weatherly and said, “Hey, I got a singer that wants to cut your song, but I would like to change two things about the song.” One of the changes he wanted to make was to change the word Houston to Georgia and change the word plane to train. Weatherly said, “What did I have to lose?”
The song was recorded first by Gladys Knight and it became a huge hit. Since then others like the Rolling Stones have cut the song, “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Oh, Major’s girlfriend, the one who Weatherly spoke with that day, was Farrah Fawcett!
There are good things that come into one’s life that are a little hard to figure out how it all happened. As Weatherly said, “The phone call from Major’s girlfriend telling me of her plans, a producer hearing a bad cut, a young unknown black singer saying I want to cut that;” these are a few things that happen in business and in life that are sometimes hard to explain.
You probably have already had some of those experiences and wondering just how and why certain things happened as they did.
July 22, 2010