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; 93 years ago (1930-12-22) Southern Music Publishing Co., Inc.[1]
Adopted1979; 45 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
StudioRCA Victor, 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 at the RCA Victor Studios at 155 East 24th Street in New York City. 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]

"Georgia on My Mind" has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame twice. The first induction was in 1993 for the 1960 recording on the ABC-Paramount label by Ray Charles. The second induction happened in 2014 for the 1930 recording on the Victor label by Hoagy Carmichael And His Orchestra.[6]

Background and original recording[edit]

It has been asserted that Hoagy Carmichael wrote the song about his sister, Georgia.[7][8] However, Carmichael wrote in his second autobiography Sometimes I Wonder (1976) that saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer told him he should write a song about the state of Georgia. Trumbauer jokingly volunteered the first two words, "Georgia, Georgia...", which Carmichael ended up using while working on the song with his roommate, Stuart Gorrell. Gorrell, who wrote the lyrics, stated he wrote the lyrics about Carmichael’s sister.[4][9] 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"
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
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.[12][4][13][14] It would also be the song most associated with his musical career.[12]

Chart (1960–1961) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[15] 47
UK Singles (OCC)[16] 24
US Billboard Hot 100[17] 1
Chart (2013) Peak
France (SNEP)[18] 117

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.[19][20][21]

In 1979, the song was designated the State Song of Georgia, and Charles was invited to perform it at the state capitol.[3][12]

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 watched him.

In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named the Ray Charles version of "Georgia on My Mind" the 44th greatest song of all time.[4][13]

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

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.[22]

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.[23]

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 Billboard’s country charts.[24] Nelson's version won him a Grammy Award in 1979 at the 21st Annual Grammy Awards for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male.[25]

Chart (1978) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[26] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[27] 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 "State Song". Georgia Secretary of State. September 5, 2008. Archived from the original on September 5, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "History – Joint Resolution of the Georgia General Assembly designating "Georgia on My Mind"". GeorgiaInfo. April 24, 1979. Archived from the original on October 18, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 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. ^ Oney, Tish (July 28, 2017). ""Georgia On My Mind" by Hoagy Carmichael". All About Jazz. Retrieved March 31, 2022.
  6. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame". Archived from the original on May 15, 2024.
  7. ^ "Song Composer's Sister Wedded". The Oakland Post Enquirer. November 16, 1942. p. 5. Archived from the original on October 8, 2023. Retrieved October 1, 2023 – via
  8. ^ Fox, Cen. "Georgia On My Mind by Ray Charles in Georgia". Song Places. Archived from the original on April 11, 2018. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ a b Breihan, Tom (November 15, 2022). "The Supremes - "Where Did Our Love Go". The Number Ones: Twenty Chart-Topping Hits That Reveal the History of Pop Music. New York: Hachette Book Group. pp. 61–62.
  11. ^ Stanley, Bob (September 13, 2013). "This Is My Prayer: The Birth of Soul". Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop. Faber & Faber. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-571-28198-5.
  12. ^ a b c "29 Black Music Milestones: Ray Charles' 'Georgia' Becomes State Song". Billboard. February 12, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2022.
  13. ^ a b "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. April 7, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  14. ^ Maillot, Elodie (February 26, 2021). ""Georgia on My Mind": the spirit of Ray Charles returns to the south". PAM - Pan African Music. Retrieved March 31, 2022.
  15. ^ "Ray Charles – Georgia on My Mind" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  16. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  17. ^ "Ray Charles Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  18. ^ "Ray Charles – Georgia on My Mind" (in French). Les classement single.
  19. ^ McCall, Douglas L. (September 11, 2015). Film Cartoons: A Guide to 20th Century American Animated Features and Shorts. McFarland. ISBN 9781476609669 – via Google Books.
  20. ^ "About | ROBERT GROSSMAN". robertgrossman.
  21. ^ "1977 Academy Awards". InfoPlease. Archived from the original on February 28, 2011.
  22. ^ "Ella 101: Georgia On My Mind (Day 26 of 101)". WYSO. Retrieved March 31, 2022.
  23. ^ Morris, Chris, Liner Notes to Islands CD release
  24. ^ "Georgia on My Mind (song by Willie Nelson)". May 27, 1978. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  25. ^ "Willie Nelson | Artist |".
  26. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  27. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.