City Lights (song)

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For other songs with the same title, see City Lights (disambiguation) § Music.
"City Lights"
Single by Ray Price
B-side "Invitation to the Blues"
Released June 1958 (U.S.)
Format 7"
Recorded May 29, 1958
Genre Country
Length 2:59
Label Columbia 41191
Writer(s) Bill Anderson
Ray Price singles chronology
"Curtain in the Window"
"City Lights"
"That's What It's Like to Be Lonesome"
"City Lights"
Single by Mickey Gilley
from the album City Lights
B-side "Fraulein"
Released November 1974 (U.S.)
Format 7"
Recorded 1974
Genre Country
Length 2:48
Label Playboy 6015
Writer(s) Bill Anderson
Producer(s) Eddie Kilroy
Mickey Gilley singles chronology
"I Overlooked an Orchid"
"City Lights"
"Window Up Above"

"City Lights" is an American country music song written by Bill Anderson. It twice became a #1 hit — in 1958 and again in 1975.

Ray Price recorded the original version in 1958, with his version becoming a long-running #1 hit.

About the song[edit]

"City Lights" was one of Anderson's earliest major successes. He wrote the song when he was just 19, and it was picked up by Price in the spring of 1958, when Price was country music's predominant honky-tonk singer and stylist.

According to country music historian Bill Malone, "City Lights" depicts personal isolation and "the estrangement of the individual in a world of urban anonymity." Price's "hard, lonesome vocal" and Texas shuffle beat (the styling hallmarks of his recordings from the mid-1950s through early 1960s) were prominent in his rendition.[1]

Released in June 1958, Price's version of "City Lights" stalled at #2 on the Billboard magazine Most Played C&W by Disc Jockeys chart later that summer. When Billboard introduced its all-encompassing chart for country music (called "Hot C&W Sides") on October 20, "City Lights" was the new chart's first #1 song. It remained atop the chart for 13 weeks, its last week being January 12, 1959. The song spent a total of 34 weeks on the chart.

Cover versions[edit]

  • Several artists have covered Anderson's "City Lights" through the years. One of the most successful of these covers was by Mickey Gilley, whose version was a piano-backed honky-tonk rendition. Giley had a #1 country hit, in February 1975.
  • Ivory Joe Hunter recorded this song in 1959 during his shift to country late in his career and his version peaked at #92 on the US Billboard charts.
  • Debbie Reynolds also recorded in 1960 and peaked at #55 on pop charts.
  • Additional covers were recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1965 on his album Country Songs for City Folks,[2]
  • A cover by Mel Tillis peaked at number 67 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1989.[3]
  • Bill Anderson recorded his own cover
  • Others who have recorded the song are: Connie Smith, Rick Trevino, Conway Twitty, Johnny Bush and Dottie West.


Ray Price version[edit]

Preceded by
"Bird Dog"
by Everly Brothers
Billboard Hot C&W Sides
number one single

October 20, 1958-January 12, 1959
Succeeded by
"Billy Bayou"
by Jim Reeves

Mickey Gilley version[edit]

Preceded by
"(I'd Be) A Legend in My Time"
by Ronnie Milsap
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number one single

February 1, 1975
Succeeded by
"Then Who Am I"
by Charley Pride



  1. ^ Malone, Bill, "The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Country Music" ((booklet included with The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Country Music 8-volume set). Smithsonian Institution, 1981).
  2. ^ Jerry Lee Lewis, Country Songs for City Folks Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2013). Hot Country Songs 1944–2012. Record Research, Inc. p. 337. ISBN 978-0-89820-203-8. 

External links[edit]