Mickey Gilley comes from a distinct line of southern stylists. His Louisiana cousins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Lee Swaggart are stylists of the highest order. They know how to work a room. Don’t think because you’re not a rock n roller or a evangelical these men can’t get to you. Alone in a room with either of them and you wouldn’t last five minutes before you were speaking in some sort of new fangled tongue. The exception I think would be Gilley. While he unfortunately has, at times, lived in the shadows of his cousins – he’s from across the river in Mississippi after all – he has never sounded like he does. His music may not be as loose as the Killers or as melodramatic as his holy rollin’ cousin, but it’s confident and boisterous and filled with what old country folks would simple call feeling.
I’m sure some would argue differently, but I would say Mr. Gilley’s best moment on record was his 1976 No. 1 hit record of Baker Knight’s “Don’t The Girls Get Prettier At Closing Time.” This song is pure musical onomatopoeia. There’s a manic feeling that swells up at night, as the world begins shutting down and the good time Charlies are heading home where anything is better than being alone. It makes men overreach. Women too, I suppose. It takes two as they say. Gilley plays the hell out of it. It’s a trills and pumping ivories, and boogie woogie sad clown delight.
Chronologically, this song takes place right before Ray Price’s Nightlife album. This is a 1:47 a.m. moment. After 2 a.m. it’s country music pumpkining and strictly the stuff of loneliness. Listen to Gilley as he pounds out the notes and throws his voice around, listen to the chorus girls push him along faster and faster. Speed dating wasn’t invented in some matchmaker boardroom. It’s a honkytonk folk art.
Post Lonely Script ~ While digging down some rabbit hole I found this, what exactly is this, this small piece of awesome from the University of Virginia:
Despite psychology’s attempts at keeping pace with hypotheses generated by song writers, research dealing with perceived physical attraction has fallen far behind. In an attempt to close the gap, a study was conducted which confirmed Gilley’s (1975) prediction that “all the girls get prettier at closing time, they all get to look like movie stars…” A reactance interpretation based on predecisional preferences validated Gilley’s observation “ain’t it funny, ain’ t it strange, the way a man’s opinions change when he starts to face that lonely night.”