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"You Are My Sunshine" is a popular song written by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell[1] and first recorded 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.

"You Are My Sunshine"
Song by Pine Ridge Boys
Published 1939
Songwriter(s) Jimmie Davis, Charles Mitchell (disputed)

The song has been covered 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 covered 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 covered by Doris Day (1951), Nat King Cole (1955), The Marcels, (1961), Ray Charles, Ike and Tina Turner, The Rivingtons (1962), Andy Williams (1963), Burl Ives (1968), Frank Turner, Aretha Franklin, Anne Murray (1979), Johnny Cash, Norman Blake , Brian Wilson, Mouse and the Traps, Gene Vincent, Jamey Johnson, Low, Mose Allison, Bryan Ferry, Carly Simon, Yusuf Islam, Andy Williams, Copeland, and Johnny and the Hurricanes, amongst many others.[2]

The 1940 version by Davis has been 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]

In Gavin Lambert's 1963 novel "Inside Daisy Clover," Daisy often sings "You Are My Sunshine" to pick up her spirits when she's feeling down.


Early recordingsEdit

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 to actually 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] Some early versions of the song credit the Rice Brothers. Descendants and associates of Oliver Hood, a LaGrange, Georgia musician who collaborated with Rice, claim Hood wrote the song in the early 1930s, first performing it in 1933 at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention at LaGrange, Georgia in 1933.[10] According to some accounts,[which?] 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 covers, 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]

Film appearancesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ CD liner notes: Disney Children's Favorites 4, 1990 Disney Records
  2. ^ a b c d e Stephen Deusner, "'You Are My Sunshine': How a Maudlin Song Became a Children's Classic",, May 26, 2013.
  3. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved June 22, 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 21 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "Virginia Ruth Kilpatrick Shehee". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved July 9, 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. ^ a b Lowe, Leslie (1992). Directory of Popular Music (3rd ed.). Hastings, UK: Music Master. p. 355. ISBN 0-904520-70-6. 
  12. ^ Reynolds, Fred (1986). The Crosby Collection 1926-1977 (Part Two ed.). Gateshead, UK: John Joyce. p. 220. 

External linksEdit

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