‘Hoverin’ By My Suitcase . . .’

Brook Benton’s cover of Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night In Georgia” popped up on iTunes the other day, but the volume of the song was low compared to the tracks that had come before. I did some checking, and the mp3 of the tune (the source of the iTunes file) also had a lower volume than most of the other mp3s on the digital shelves.

Blame the source, which I think was a borrowed CD.

So I found another source for another mp3 and replaced all the files. Now, when the track pops up on random, the opening guitar figure can grab my attention the way it did back in the early months of 1970, when I heard the record on KDWB, where it peaked at No. 17; WLS, where it peaked at No. 4; and WJON, which, as far as I know, did not offer surveys. (Am I right, Yah Shure?)

Nationally, the record peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also went to No. 2 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart and spent a week at No. 1 on the R&B chart.

I’ve got a few other versions of the song, but Benton’s take on it remains my favorite, partly because it’s the first version I heard but mostly because its hushed sound and that opening guitar riff remind me of evenings in my room with my old RCA radio during my first Top 40 winter.

There are quite a few covers of the song out there; Second Hand Songs lists eighty-five versions, including White’s and Benton’s, and there are likely others not listed. I see versions listed there by Tennessee Ernie Ford, B.J. Thomas, Johnny Rivers, Chuck Jackson, Boz Scaggs, and Ray Charles, a duet by Sam Moore and Conway Twitty (from a 1994 album titled Rhythm Country and Blues), and instrumental takes by Al Hirt, Cornell Dupree, Boots Randolph, and more.

But we’ll close today with the original version of the song by Tony Joe White. It’s from his 1969 album . . . Continued.

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One Response to “‘Hoverin’ By My Suitcase . . .’”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    Whiteray, I have no idea whether or not WJON published a weekly survey in 1970. Only a stray earlier chart or two from the mid ’70s turned up after I started working there in 1977.

    By that time, the Cotillion 45 had been retired from the WJON library, so we played Brook’s “Rainy Night In Georgia” off of a 1973 Atlantic Records 25th anniversary double-LP, ‘The Soul Years.’ Although it was, in all likelihood, a result of pulling the wrong tape during the production process, this various artists compilation is notable for a rocked-up re-recording Ruth Brown did of her 1953 hit, “Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean”. The recording date of the remake wasn’t listed – probably mid-to-late ’50s – but boy, does it smoke!

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