Georgia on My Mind

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Georgia on My Mind

Regional anthem of Georgia
LyricsStuart Gorrell, 1930
MusicHoagy Carmichael, 1930
PublishedDecember 22, 1930; 92 years ago (1930-12-22) Southern Music Publishing Co., Inc.[1]
Adopted1979; 44 years ago (1979)
"Georgia on My Mind"
Single by Hoagy Carmichael and his Orchestra
B-side"One Night in Havana"
Released1930 (1930)
RecordedSeptember 15, 1930
Studio155 E 24th Street, New York City
GenreTraditional pop
Composer(s)Hoagy Carmichael
Lyricist(s)Stuart Gorrell

"Georgia on My Mind" is a 1930 song written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell and first recorded that same year by Hoagy Carmichael. However, the song has been most often associated with soul singer Ray Charles, who was a native of the U.S. state of Georgia and recorded it for his 1960 album The Genius Hits the Road.

In 1979, the State of Georgia designated Ray Charles' version the official state song.[2][3] The song has become part of the Great American Songbook tradition.[4][5]

Background and original recording[edit]

Stuart Gorrell's letter to the Bremen Enquirer, August 3, 1961

It has been asserted that Hoagy Carmichael wrote the song about his sister, Georgia.[6] But Carmichael wrote in his second autobiography Sometimes I Wonder that saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer told him he should write a song about the state of Georgia. He jokingly volunteered the first two words, "Georgia, Georgia...", which Carmichael ended up using while working on the song with his roommate, Stuart Gorrell, who wrote the lyrics.[4][7] Gorrell's name was absent from the copyright, but Carmichael sent him royalty checks anyway.[4]

Carmichael recorded "Georgia on My Mind", with Bix Beiderbecke on cornet, in New York City on September 15, 1930.[4]

Ray Charles version[edit]

"Georgia on My Mind"
Ray C. Geor.jpg
Single by Ray Charles
from the album The Genius Hits the Road
B-side"Carry Me Back to Old Virginny"
ReleasedSeptember 1960 (1960-09)
RecordedMay 1960
GenreSoul, traditional pop
LabelABC-Paramount (USA)
Stateside (UK)
Composer(s)Hoagy Carmichael
Lyricist(s)Stuart Gorrell
Producer(s)Sid Feller
Ray Charles singles chronology
"Tell the Truth"
"Georgia on My Mind"

In 1960, Ray Charles, a native of Georgia, recorded a version of the song that went to No. 1 on the Billboard magazine Hot 100.[4] Charles' hit rendition would become the most widely-known version of the tune from this time on.[8][4][9][10] It would also be the song most associated with his musical career.[8]

In 1977, Robert Grossman, James Picker and Craig Whitaker created a clay animation short, Jimmy the C, in which U.S. President Jimmy Carter sings in Ray Charles' version of the song.[11][12][13]

In 1979, the song was designated the State Song of Georgia, and Charles was invited to perform it at the state capitol.[3][8]

The TV series Designing Women used an instrumental version of "Georgia on My Mind" as its opening theme. During the opening credits of the show's sixth season in 1991, Charles performed his version of the song live on piano while the show's cast looked as the opening credits.

In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named the Ray Charles version of "Georgia on My Mind" the 44th greatest song of all time.[4][9]


Chart (1960–1961) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[14] 47
UK Singles (OCC)[15] 24
US Billboard Hot 100[16] 1
Chart (2013) Peak
France (SNEP)[17] 117

Ella Fitzgerald version[edit]

In 1962, famed jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald released a rendition of the song, produced by Norman Granz, on the album Ella Swings Gently with Nelson.[18]

The Hawks/The Band version[edit]

The song was a standard at performances by Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks,[4] where it was sung by pianist Richard Manuel after 1964. When The Hawks broke up and formed The Band, they kept the song in their repertoire. They recorded a studio version of the song for Jimmy Carter's presidential bid in 1976. It was released as a single that year as well as on their 1977 album Islands.[19]

Willie Nelson version[edit]

"Georgia on My Mind"
Single by Willie Nelson
from the album Stardust
B-side"On the Sunny Side of the Street"
ReleasedMarch 25, 1978
Composer(s)Hoagy Carmichael
Lyricist(s)Stuart Gorrell
Producer(s)Sid Feller
Willie Nelson singles chronology
"I Love You a Thousand Ways"
"Georgia on My Mind"
"Blue Skies"

Willie Nelson recorded the song on Stardust, his 1978 album of standards.[4] It was released as single, peaked at No. 1 for a single week, and ranked for sixteen weeks on a country chart.[20]

The original lyrics, including the commonly excised introductory verse, are in the Georgia Code under license.[2][3]

Chart activity[edit]

Chart (1978) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[21] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[22] 84
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 86
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 16

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Library of Congress. Copyright Office. (1931). Catalog of Copyright Entries, 1931 Musical Compositions For the Year 1931 New Series Vol 26 Part 3. United States Copyright Office. U.S. Govt. Print. Off.
  2. ^ a b "Georgia Secretary of State | State Song". 5 September 2008. Archived from the original on 5 September 2008. Retrieved 18 March 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  3. ^ a b c "History – Joint Resolution of the Georgia General Assembly designating "Georgia on My Mind" – GeorgiaInfo". 24 April 1979. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. New York City: Oxford University Press. pp. 122–124. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  5. ^ Jazz, All About (28 July 2017). ""Georgia On My Mind" by Hoagy Carmichael article @ All About Jazz". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  6. ^ Fox, Cen. "Georgia On My Mind by Ray Charles in Georgia". Song Places. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  7. ^ Carmichael, Hoagy; Longstreet, Stephen (1976). Sometimes I Wonder: The Story of Hoagy Carmichael (Repr. d. Ausg. New York 1965. ed.). New York: Da Capo. ISBN 9780306708091.
  8. ^ a b c "29 Black Music Milestones: Ray Charles' 'Georgia' Becomes State Song". Billboard. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  9. ^ a b "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  10. ^ Maillot, Elodie (2021-02-26). ""Georgia on My Mind": the spirit of Ray Charles returns to the south". PAM - Pan African Music. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  11. ^ McCall, Douglas L. (September 11, 2015). Film Cartoons: A Guide to 20th Century American Animated Features and Shorts. McFarland. ISBN 9781476609669 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ "About | ROBERT GROSSMAN". robertgrossman.
  13. ^ "1977 Academy Awards". InfoPlease. Archived from the original on February 28, 2011.
  14. ^ "Ray Charles – Georgia on My Mind" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  15. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  16. ^ "Ray Charles Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  17. ^ "Ray Charles – Georgia on My Mind" (in French). Les classement single.
  18. ^ "Ella 101: Georgia On My Mind (Day 26 of 101)". WYSO. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  19. ^ Morris, Chris, Liner Notes to Islands CD release
  20. ^ "Georgia on My Mind (song by Willie Nelson)". 27 May 1978. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  21. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  22. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.