Ten days ago I featured the “Queen of Gospel” — so now how about the “Empress of Soul”? Gladys Knight & the Pips were a 1970s R&B group that I enjoyed while in high school, and no doubt innumerable couples have considered “You’re the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me” to be “their song.” It’s also another one that Joanna and I have sung along with many times while on the road.

Many people may not know or remember that Gladys Knight & the Pips weren’t the first to have a hit with the song, written by Jim Weatherly (who once quarterbacked a national championship Mississippi football team). A country version by Ray Price topped the country charts in 1973, a year before the GK&P released theirs. Crooners Dean Martin and Steve Lawrence apparently also did it in 1973, followed by Andy Williams in 1974. (Interestingly, even Weatherly’s own website and the article linked above seem to have the order of the Knight and Price recordings wrong.)

It’s no wonder that so many artists and others liked the song. I assume that every guy in a happy marriage feels that his life would be much less happy — and much less successful — without his wife, and probably almost every happily married person can identify with the opening verse:

I’ve had my share of life’s ups and downs
But fate’s been kind, the downs have been few
I guess you could say that I’ve been lucky
Well, I guess you could say that it’s all because of you

For the rest of the song, check out the lyrics here, or the video below.

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