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Story Behind the Song: ‘City Lights’ by Ray Price

Ray Price
Classic Country Music via You Tube

The song “City Lights”  has several pieces of country music history associated with it. The first being, it put Bill Anderson on the map as a songwriter.

The other is that the song twice went to number one on the country charts. Also, some very well known artists recorded cover versions.

Bill Anderson wrote the song when he was just 19-years old. I once had Bill as a guest on my radio show and discussed the writing of the song.

I pointed out the year being 1958 when the song was wrote. Bill, being humorous on not wanting to give his age away, said, “Mark, I was four years old when I wrote that song.”

He also pointed out the encouragement he got from his fathers reaction to the song’s opening line. It starts out with the words, “A bright array of city lights, as far as I can see.”

Bill said his dad told him, “Son you’ve got a big imagination by saying that about city lights as far as you can see.” Bill said the city lights in their little hometown of Commerce, Georgia, only stretched out a few blocks at that time.

If you were a teenager wanting to be a songwriter, a dream come true would be to have the biggest recording artist currently in the business, choose to do your song.

That was the case in 1958 when Ray Price picked the song to record. It turned out to be a huge success with Price taking the song to number one, where it would stay for 13 weeks.

Then years later, Mickey Gilley recorded a chart topping version in 1975. Many other artists too, have recorded covers of the song. Including Connie Smith, Rick Trevino, Conway Twitty, Johnny Bush and Dottie West.

Here’s the original version of the song by Ray Price

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Here’s Mickey Gilly’s version:

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