You Are My Sunshine
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You Are My Sunshine
"You Are My Sunshine"
Song by Pine Ridge Boys

"You Are My Sunshine" is a song popularized by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell[1]in 1939. It has been declared one of the state songs of Louisiana because of its association with Davis, a country music singer and governor of the state in the years 1944-1948 and 1960-1964.

The song has been recorded numerous times -- so often, in fact, that it is "one of the most commercially programmed numbers in American popular music."[2] The song, originally country music, has "virtually lost" its original country music identity, and "represent[s] both the national flowering of country music and its eventual absorption into the mainstream of American popular culture."[2] In 1941, it was recorded by Gene Autry, Bing Crosby,[3]Mississippi John Hurt, Wayne King and Lawrence Welk.[2] The versions by Autry, Crosby, and King reached the US charts of the day.[4]

In subsequent years, it was recorded by Doris Day (1951), Nat King Cole (1955), The Marcels (1961), Ray Charles (1962), Ike & Tina Turner, The Rivingtons (1962), Andy Williams (1963), Burl Ives (1968), Frank Turner, The Beach Boys, Aretha Franklin, Anne Murray (1979), Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Norman Blake, Brian Wilson, Mouse and the Traps, Gene Vincent, Jamey Johnson, Low, Mose Allison, Bryan Ferry, Carly Simon, Papa Winnie (1989), Madeline Eastman, Yusuf Islam, Copeland, Johnny and the Hurricanes, and Barbra Lica (2012), amongst many others.[2]

The 1940 version by Davis was added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress on March 21, 2013, for long-term preservation.[5]

Virginia Shehee, a long-time Davis family friend and member of the Louisiana State Senate from 1976 to 1980, introduced legislation to make "You Are My Sunshine" the official state song.[6]

Early recordings

Two versions of "You Are My Sunshine" were recorded and released in 1939 prior to Jimmie Davis' version. The first was recorded for Bluebird Records (RCA-Victor's budget label) on August 22, 1939, by The Pine Ridge Boys (Marvin Taylor and Doug Spivey), who were from Atlanta.[7] The second was recorded for Decca Records on September 13, 1939, by The Rice Brothers Gang.[8] This group was originally from north Georgia but relocated to Shreveport, where they were performing on the radio station KWKH. The version by Jimmie Davis was recorded for Decca Records on February 5, 1940.[9]


While Davis and Mitchell are the credited songwriters of "You Are My Sunshine", Davis was never known actually to claim authorship, as he bought the song and rights from Paul Rice and put his own name on it, a practice not uncommon in the pre-World War II music business,[10] though some early versions of the song credit it to the Rice Brothers. Descendants and associates of Oliver Hood, a LaGrange, Georgia, musician who collaborated with Rice, state that Hood wrote the song in the early 1930s and first performed it at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention at LaGrange, Georgia, in 1933.[10]

According to OffBeat magazine,[11] clarinetist Pud Brown was also involved with the Rice Brothers for the song's origin or first arrangement. Davis said that for some time he had been enthusiastic about the song and had unsuccessfully tried to convince record companies to record it before finally making his own 1940 record of the song. Davis' version was popular and was followed by numerous other versions, including those of Bing Crosby and Gene Autry, whose versions made the number a big hit. Davis emphasized his association with the song when running for governor of Louisiana in 1944, singing it at all his campaign rallies while riding on a horse named "Sunshine".[2]

In popular culture

Film appearances

Television appearances
  • On the 2016 TV series Bloodline, Robert Rayburn frequently strums the song on his ukulele and sings it throughout season 1,[14][15] and in season 2, episode 9 (airdate May 28, 2017) Evangeline sings it to Nolan and Sally.[16]

See also


  • Joel Whitburn Presents Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004, 2004 (Record Research) pg. 113


  1. ^ CD liner notes: Disney Children's Favorites 4, 1990 Disney Records
  2. ^ a b c d e Deusner, Stephen (May 26, 2013). "'You Are My Sunshine': How a Maudlin Song Became a Children's Classic".
  3. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 615. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  5. ^ "Simon & Garfunkel Song Among Those to Be Preserved by Library of Congress". Huntington Post. Retrieved 2013.
  6. ^ "Virginia Ruth Kilpatrick Shehee". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved 2015.
  7. ^ Russell, Tony, and Bob Pinson. Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 697.
  8. ^ Russell, Tony, and Bob Pinson. Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 746.
  9. ^ Russell, Tony, and Bob Pinson. Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 304.
  10. ^ a b Pappas, Theodore (November 1990). "The 'Theft' of an American Classic". Chronicles. The Rockford Institute.
  11. ^ Jeff Hannusch (October 1, 2009). "Classic Songs of Louisiana: 'You Are My Sunshine'". OffBeat.
  12. ^ a b Lowe, Leslie (1992). Directory of Popular Music (3rd ed.). Hastings, UK: Music Master. p. 355. ISBN 0-904520-70-6.
  13. ^ Reynolds, Fred (1986). The Crosby Collection 1926-1977 (Part Two ed.). Gateshead, UK: John Joyce. p. 220.
  14. ^ Rooney, David. "'Bloodline': Berlin Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  15. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (July 31, 2017). "Sam Shepard: 'Bloodline' Co-Stars, Nancy Meyers, Reese Witherspoon Remember Legendary Actor-Writer". Deadline Hollywood.
  16. ^ "Bloodline: Season 2 Official Playlist". Spotify.

External links

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