Ole Miss Writing Contest

Lamar Lobby

OXFORD, Miss. – Calling Ole Miss football great Jim Weatherly an interesting man would be an epic understatement.

Weatherly, a native of Pontotoc, played for legendary Ole Miss Coach Johnny Vaught as an All-Southeastern Conference quarterback and honorable mention All-American on the 1964 team. He was also a member of the only unbeaten and untied national championship squad in University of Mississippi history in 1962 – a team that captured the SEC championship that year and again in 1963.

But his success hasn’t been limited to football. As a professional songwriter, he penned “Midnight Train to Georgia, ” which Gladys Knight and the Pips turned into one of the biggest hits of all time. His efforts led to him being elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in this year’s class alongside music legends Donovan and the Kinks’ front man Ray Davies, among others.

But that’s not all that’s interesting about Weatherly. As a hit songwriter, he also traveled in the same social circles with the elite of the music and acting industries when he lived in Los Angeles. His biggest hit song came from a phone conversation he had with Farrah Fawcett. In the 1970s and ’80s, he also played flag football with “The Six Million Dollar Man” Lee Majors and actors Mark Harmon and James Caan, among other notables.

Weatherly, 71, who lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife, Cynthia, their daughter, Brighton, and son, Zack, recently did a phone interview with University Communications about his career, his election to the Songwriters Hall of Fame and his memories of playing for Vaught.

Here’s the full interview:

Q: Take me back to when you decided to attend Ole Miss. What drew you to this place?

A: Well, growing up, I had always been a big fan of Ole Miss football and I followed Ole Miss all through high school, even when I was in junior high and grammar school. There was just kind of a mystique about Ole Miss for me. I grew up in Pontotoc. All this was happening just 30 miles away from me when I was growing up. I used to listen to the ballgames on the radio when I was growing up. There was just this mystique about listening to what was going on just 30 miles away and in those red-and-blue uniforms.

I don’t think I ever made a conscious decision to go to Ole Miss. It was just kind of like if I ever got the opportunity that’s where I was going. It wasn’t something I really thought a lot about. It was just I wanted to be part of that mystique of that Ole Miss Rebel football team. So, it was just kind of a foregone conclusion that if I ever got the opportunity, that’s where I would go.

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