There’s a lyric in one of Gladys Knight and the Pips‘ songs–1973’s “The Best Thing That Happened to Me”–that makes me smile each time I hear it. It’s the line where Gladys sings about how, even when times were hard, she made it through due to the moments she spent loving her man. That song, “The Best Thing,” was recorded on the heels of the group’s most famous song, “Midnight Train to Georgia,” and just before they took over and turned out the soundtrack to the 1974 motion picture Claudine. It was written after the successful “If I Were Your Woman” and the even more successful “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye).” It was written way before “Love Overboard,” and well before her contribution to the Grammy Award-winning “That’s What Friends Are For,” before she and the Pips were inducted into both the Georgia and the Rock & Roll halls of fame.
However, it’s still that line from that song that still sticks with me today. Maybe because it deftly defines the career of Gladys Knight, one that has spanned more than five decades and has been filled with hard times. It speaks volumes that her man has stuck by her side through so much, including the death of a child, gambling addictions, failed marriages and heated custody battles. He’s been there to love her, to help her make it through it all. He’s still there, and always will be, because that “man” is her music. And because of her love for it, we’ve had the privilege of loving her.
Happy 64th birthday, Gladys Maria Knight! You’re definitely one of the best things that’s happened to us.