She will forever be remembered for a beautiful smile and a little red one-piece bathing suit. But Farrah Fawcett should also be remembered for inspiring one of Motown’s biggest hits. Not many people have heard this story yet, and you may think I’m making it up. But I’m not.
Farrah Fawcett was the inspiration behind “Midnight Train to Georgia”.
Jim Weatherly told this story a couple of years ago when he was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in Nashville. I was in the audience that night and after Tricia Yearwood sang it, Weatherly told this story.
During the early 70s or maybe the late 60s, Jim Weatherly was writing songs and had become friends with actor Lee Majors. He said one night he called Lee’s apartment and Farrah answered the phone. Lee and Farrah were dating at the time he said, but later they would marry giving her the surname “Farrah Fawcett Majors”.
Weatherly said he asked for Lee and Farrah told him “he’s not here. He’s leaving on a midnight plane to Houston”.
I don’t remember Weatherly getting into the reason why Lee Majors was going to Houston but it certainly wasn’t because he was giving up a dream of being a star as the song’s lyrics imply. Majors was already a “superstar” playing in “Big Valley”.
But Weatherly says those words “Midnight plane to Houston” stuck with him. He wrote the lyrics and recorded it himself as a country song. It didn’t go anywhere so he sent it to a producer in Atlanta who changed it to “Midnight Train to Georgia” and gave it to Cissy Houston. The song didn’t really go anywhere either so Weatherly’s publisher sent it to Gladys Knight and the Pips.
Rolling Stone ranks “Midnight Train to Georgia” as #432 on its list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. (I’d put it in the top 25 myself).
Now everytime I hear this song I think of Farrah Fawcett.