You Are My Sunshine

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"You Are My Sunshine"
Song by Pine Ridge Boys (1939)
Published 1939
Language English
Recorded by Rice Brothers Gang (1939)
Jimmie Davis (1940)

"You Are My Sunshine" is a popular song recorded 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 former state governor and country music singer Davis.

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, Mississippi John Hurt and Lawrence Welk.[2] In subsequent years, it was covered by Nat King Cole (1955), The Marcels, (1961), Ray Charles, Ike and Tina Turner, The Rivingtons (1962), Frank Turner, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Brian Wilson, Mouse and the Traps, Jamey Johnson, Low and Andy Williams, 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.[3]

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.[4]

Early recordings[edit]

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.[5] The second was recorded for Decca Records on September 13, 1939 by The Rice Brothers Gang.[6] This group was originally from north Georgia, but had 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.[7]


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.[8] Some early versions of the song credit the Rice Brothers. Descendants and associates of Oliver Hood, a Georgia musician who collaborated with Rice, claim Hood wrote the song in the early 1930s, first performing it in 1933.[8] 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]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ "Simon & Garfunkel Song Among Those to Be Preserved by Library of Congress". Huntington Post. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "Virginia Ruth Kilpatrick Shehee". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  5. ^ Russell, Tony, and Bob Pinson. Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921–1942 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 697.
  6. ^ Russell, Tony, and Bob Pinson. Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921–1942 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 746.
  7. ^ Russell, Tony, and Bob Pinson. Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921–1942 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 304.
  8. ^ a b Pappas, Theodore (November 1990). "The 'Theft' of an American Classic". Chronicles (The Rockford Institute). 
  • Joel Whitburn Presents Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004, 2004 (Record Research) pg. 113