You Are My Sunshine
"You Are My Sunshine" is a popular song recorded by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell 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." 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.” In 1941, it was covered by Gene Autry, Bing Crosby, Mississippi John Hurt and Lawrence Welk. In subsequent years, it was covered by 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.
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. 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.
The Legacy - Oliver Hood - the real author of "You Are My Sunshine"!
Oliver Hood was a soft-spoken, self taught man of simple pleasures and simple needs.He worked for decades as a doffer in the local cotton mill before becoming a full-time music teacher in the 1950′s. He was one of the most popular and best liked men in LaGrange. His good looks charmed the women and good nature charmed the men, and never did he hesitate to share what little he ever had with anyone in need; he was, in a phrase, generous to a fault. He was also the local sage, the person whom neighbors turned to for advise. He offered to all a ready ear and a willing tongue: the former whenever needed, the latter upon request.
And considering his complete lack of any formal education, his command of the English language was nothing short of remarkable. “I think General Sherman would have been very envious of Mama’s ability to express herself in such a beautiful and original terms of force,” he once wrote of his wife. (“I MIGHT ADD THAT IT WOULD MAKE A BOBCAT’S TAIL CURL IN HORROR AT THE ELEMENT OF MAYHEM WHICH IS EVIDENT IN HER EXPOSITION OF THE KING’S ENGLISH AT EVEN SUCH A MINOR INCIDENT AS A TELEPHONE RINGING.”)
Oliver Hood was also a master of the mandolin, the most sought-after music teacher in town, the host of a morning country music show on WLAG in LaGrange, and the organizer or numerous bands that played throughout west Georgia in the 1930′s and 40′s. As the natives well remember, his home on McGhee Street stood as a virtual community center. Every Sunday afternoon musicians from all around the area would congregate on Oliver’s front porch to play and record their music till sundown. Church in the morning, dinner at noon, then music from Oliver Hood’s.
This was tradition; this was ritual; this was how Sunday afternoons were spent for some twenty years. If music was heard issuing from the direction of McGhee Street, LaGrange knew it was Sunday, and that Oliver Hood was home.
Contrary claims notwithstanding, Oliver Hood wrote “You Are My Sunshine.” He wrote the words to the song on the back of a brown paper sack, which his children still possess, and he first performed the song at a VFW convention in LaGrange in 1933; he sang it through a megaphone out of a hotel window, and he sang no less than twenty verses, most of which are lost. Over the years he wrote hundreds of songs, as did his friends. To them music was a not-for-profit venture, an act of love, something that transcended commercial consideration.
Never did the thought of copyrighting their music ever come to mind – never that is until “You Are My Sunshine” rose to the top of the music charts in 1940. It was then that Oliver Hood began copyrighting his music – one song too late, as he so well knew. A poor cotton mill doffer doesn’t easily quit dreaming of the fame and fortune that might have been, and Oliver Hood went to his grave dreaming.
In 1957, at the urging of one of his sons, he wrote and copyrighted “Somebody Stole My Sunshine Away,” a song about the theft of “You Are My Sunshine.” A country-western band in California was prepared to record the song in early 1959, but by this time Oliver had grown skeptical and suspicious of all legal dealings; he refused to approve the necessary papers, and the contract was left unsigned upon his death in March. What follows is the chorus from this little known sequel. Never before has it appeared in print:
SOMEWHERE THE SUN IS SHINING, BUT THERE’S RAIN IN MY HEART TODAY. THERE’S NO DENYING MY HEART KEEPS CRYING – SOMEBODY STOLE MY SUNSHINE AWAY.
To the people of west Georgia, the song’s origin has never been a mystery. The author of “You Are My Sunshine” was Oliver Hood, my grandfather.
“THE THEFT OF AN AMERICAN CLASSIC” IS USED BY PERMISSION GRANTED TO 2HYMN MUSIC PUBLISHING COMPANY BY THE AUTHOR, THEODORE PAPPAS, EXECUTIVE EDITOR,ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA.
This song was written by J.R. for his
Grandfather - Oliver Hood -