Remember When: Glen Campbell Scored His Second No. 1 Hot 100 Hit with the Country-Pop Classic “Southern Nights”

On April 30, 1977, Glen Campbell scored his second and last No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Southern Nights.” The track appeared on Campbell’s 1977 album of the same name. “Southern Nights”—the song—spent one week at the top of the chart, replacing Thelma Houston’s disco hit “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” It eventually got bumped from the No. 1 spot by the Eagles classic “Hotel California.”

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“Southern Nights” also topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for two weeks in March of 2023. Campbell netted his fifth No. 1 single with the song.

[RELATED: Hear Dolly Parton Join Glen Campbell on “Better Place” from Reworked Ghost on the Canvas Tribute Album]

“Southern Nights” was written by legendary New Orleans songwriter/producer Allen Toussaint. It first appeared on his own 1975 album titled Southern Nights. Toussaint, who died in 2015, wrote the song based on his memories of idyllic evenings he spent as a child visiting family members in rural Louisiana.

What Toussaint Thought of Campbell’s Version

Toussaint’s version was a sparse, atmospheric track, but Campbell took the song and sped up the tempo, added some country and danceable elements and created an extremely catchy tune.

“I love Glen’s version,” Toussaint said in a 2014 interview with Songfacts. “I had never thought of it as an uptempo and mainstream song before.” He added, “I first heard it on the radio and I was delighted. It was so good to hear it like that, because I just hadn’t imagined that someone would listen closely enough to it to want to cover such a thing.”

How Campbell Came to Record “Southern Nights”

According to Campbell’s friend and frequent collaborator Jimmy Webb, Glen heard him playing Toussaint’s Southern Nights album and was immediately drawn to the title track, which reminded him of his own childhood in rural Arkansas. In a 2011 Songfacts interview, Webb recalled that Campbell asked to borrow the album, and he quickly worked out and recorded his own arrangement of the song.

“[W]ithin four weeks that record was on the air,” Webb shared. “He worked at a frightening pace once he got going.” Incidentally, Campbell never returned the album to Webb, but Jimmy said he didn’t mind.

Campbell’s Other No. 1 Hits

Campbell’s first Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper was “Rhinstone Cowboy,” which spent two weeks at No. 1 in September 1975. That song also topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs tally for three weeks that year.

The other three No. 1 country hits Campbell had were “I Wanna Live” and “Wichita Lineman” in 1968, and “Galveston” in 1969. The latter two tunes were written by Webb.

“Southern Nights” Appeared a Couple of Movies

Campbell’s version of “Southern Nights” later was featured in a couple of popular movies, as well as on those films’ soundtrack albums. The first was Convoy, a 1978 action comedy that starred Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw. The second was the 2017 Marvel Studios film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where it was featured on the Awesome Mix Vol. 2 mixtape of Chris Pratt’s character, Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord.

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