From Rolling Stone:
It’s been called “one of the most lonesome songs ever to grace the Top Ten”: Benton‘s intimate baritone set over crying violins, crashing horns, and dolorous organs and guitars. The soul ballad was written by swamp-rocker White, who had hit big with his own “Polk Salad Annie.” “I knew about rainy nights in Georgia,” White once said, “because I drove a dump truck for the highway department.”
In 1969, after several years without a major hit, Benton had signed to a new record label, Cotillion Records (a subsidiary of Atlantic Records). Brought to the attention of producer Jerry Wexler, Benton recorded the song in November 1969 with producer Arif Mardin.
Taken from his “come-back” album Brook Benton Today, the melancholy song became an instant hit.