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US State Songs
US State Songs

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Louisiana State Song

"You Are My Sunshine"

Words and Music by
Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell

Adopted in 1977.

The official song for the State of Louisiana was adopted in 1977, entitled "You Are My Sunshine".

Louisiana State Song: "You Are My Sunshine"

"You Are My Sunshine"

The other night, dear
As I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms.
When I awoke, dear
I was mistaken
And I hung my head and cried;

CHORUS:
You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are grey
You'll never know dear
How much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away.

I'll always love you
And make you happy
If you will only say the same
But if you leave me
To love another
You'll regret it all some day;

CHORUS

You told me once, dear
You really loved me
And no one else could come between
But now you've left me
And love another
You have shattered all my dreams;

CHORUS

Louisiana my Louisiana
the place where I was borne.
White fields of cotton
-- green fields clover,
the best fishing
and long tall corn;

CHORUS

Crawfish gumbo and jambalaya
the biggest shrimp and sugar cane,
the finest oysters
and sweet strawberries
from Toledo Bend to New Orleans;

CHORUS

Origin of Song: "You Are My Sunshine"


Act 540 of 1977: ...The official song for the State of Louisiana shall also be the musical composition with words and music by Governor Jimmie H. Davis and Charles Mitchell, entitled "You Are My Sunshine".

Jimmie Davis (1899-2000)

Politicians have dabbled in music and musicians have flirted with politics, but it's rare for one person to climb to the top in both fields. Songwriter Jimmie Davis was a country superstar as well as Governor of the state of Louisiana, serving two separate terms. He was born September 11, 1899, in Quitman, a rural town located in the Northeast part of the state. He was the first of 11 children born to Sam Jones Davis and Sara Works. The family lived in a two-room shack and worked as sharecroppers on a farm. Country and gospel music was a part of everyday life, and Jimmie learned to play guitar while building a large repertoire of songs. Although his father only had a third-grade education, Jimmie graduated from high school in Beech Springs and enrolled in Louisiana College, where he joined the glee club. He sang lead tenor for a quartet called the Wildcat Four, and earned money by washing dishes and busking on street corners. He received a master's degree from Louisiana State University, and later was a professor of history at Dodd College, a Baptist school for women.

Davis entered politics and became interested in a musical career at the same time. In 1928 he went to work as a criminal court clerk in Shreveport. He was also singing in gospel concerts at church meetings and was a performer on radio station KWKH. In 1929 a talent scout from RCA Records heard him sing and signed him to the label. For four years, he recorded songs that imitated the style of the biggest star of the day, Jimmie Rodgers.

By 1934, Davis had developed his own vocal style. He relied less on the honky-tonk blues popularized by Rodgers, and became a softer crooner. In September 1934 he began recording for the new Decca label just one month after it was founded as an American company. Jimmie also became a peermusic composer and remained so throughout his life. In 1935 he earned enough money from his first big hit, "Nobody's Darling But Mine," to pay off old debts and purchase a farm. A year later, he had another major hit with a song that became a country standard, "It Makes No Difference Now." In 1938, the same year Collier's magazine called Davis and Gene Autry the two biggest stars of country music, Davis ran for office and was elected commissioner of public safety for Shreveport.

By the end of the decade, Davis was a well-known recording artist and one of the biggest headliners in country music. As the new decade began, Davis recorded the song that would become his biggest hit all over the world. On February 4, 1940, Davis stepped into a recording studio in Chicago to record his composition "You Are My Sunshine." When it was released in March, it became a million-seller and an international hit. Gene Autry and Bing Crosby were among the first of over 350 artists to record the song, which was eventually translated into more than 30 languages.

In 1942, Davis made his film debut. He played himself in "Riding Through Nevada" and "Strictly in the Groove." That same year, he was named State Public Service Commissioner. Davis was a household name when he ran for Governor of Louisiana on the Democratic ticket in 1944. Encouraged by Ralph S. Peer to use "You Are My Sunshine" as his campaign song, he defeated the political machine of Huey Long to win the election on an anti-corruption slate. While Governor, he had the biggest chart hit of his career with his song "There's a New Moon Over My Shoulder." The single spent a week at No. 1 on Billboard's country chart in March 1945.

After completing his first term of office, Davis starred in "Louisiana," a 1947 film based on his own life. He concentrated on his recording career again, with an emphasis on gospel music. In 1957 he was given the American Youth Singers Award for Best Male Sacred Singer.

In 1960, Davis was elected to a second term as Governor of Louisiana. While serving as chief executive again, he returned to Billboard's country chart after an absence of almost 15 years with a top 20 hit, "Where the Old Red River Flows."

In 1967, Davis served as president of the Gospel Music Association. In 1971, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and a year later, he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Association's Hall of Fame. In the spring of 1992 Davis appeared on a CBS special celebrating the Country Music Hall of Fame's 25th anniversary, and in 1998 he recorded a new version of "You Are My Sunshine" [available through digitalpressure.com]. At a 100th birthday party held in Baton Rouge in 1999, Davis performed four songs. The affair was a benefit for the Jimmy Davis Tabernacle Fund.

On Sunday, November 5, 2000, at the age of 101, Davis passed away in his sleep at his home in Baton Rouge.

Louisiana Laws

TITLE 49 - State administration
RS 49:155 - State song

§155. State song

A. The official state song for the State of Louisiana shall be a musical composition, with words and music by Doralice Fontane, entitled: "Give Me Louisiana"; the words and music1 reading as follows:

Give me Louisiana,

The state where I was born

The state of snowy cotton,

The best I've ever known;

A state of sweet magnolias

And creole melodies

Oh give me Louisiana,

The state where I was born

Oh what sweet old mem'ries

The mossy old oaks bring

It brings us the story of our Evangeline

A state of old tradition,

Of old plantation days

Makes good old Louisiana

The sweetest of all states.

Give me Louisiana,

A state prepared to share

That good old southern custom,

Hospitality so rare;

A state of fruit and flowers,

Of sunshine and spring showers

Oh give me Louisiana,

The state where I was born

Its woodlands, Its marshes

Where humble trappers live

Its rivers, Its valleys,

A place to always give

A state where work is pleasure,

With blessings in full measure

Makes good old Louisiana

The dearest of all states.

Give me Louisiana,

Where love birds always sing

In shady lanes or pastures,

The cowbells softly ring;

The softness of the sunset

Brings peace and blissful rest

Oh give me Louisiana,

The state where I was born

The smell of sweet clover

Which blossoms ev'rywhere

The fresh new mown hay

Where children romp and play

A state of love and laughter,

A state for all here after

Makes good old Louisiana

The grandest of all states.

B. The official state song for the state of Louisiana shall also be the musical composition with words and music by Jimmy H. Davis and Charles Mitchell, entitled "You Are My Sunshine"; the words reading as follows:

Verses:

The other night, dear

As I lay sleeping

I dreamed I held you in my arms

When I awoke, dear

I was mistaken

And I hung my head and cried;

I'll always love you

And make you happy

If you will only say the same

But if you leave me

To love another

You'll regret it all some day;

You told me once, dear

You really loved me

And no one else could come between

But now you've left me

And love another

You have shattered all my dreams;

Louisiana my Louisiana

the place where I was borne.

White fields of cotton

--green fields of clover,

the best fishing

and long tall corn;

Crawfish gumbo and jambalaya

the biggest shrimp and sugar cane,

the finest oysters

and sweet strawberries

from Toledo Bend to New Orleans;

Chorus:

YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE

My only sunshine

You make me happy

When skies are grey

You'll never know dear

How much I love you

Please don't take my sunshine away.

Amended by Acts 1970, No. 431, §1; Acts 1977, No. 540, §1.

1On authority of R.S. 24:253, the music has been omitted from the Revised Statutes.

State Songs
US State Songs
Forty-nine states of the United States (all except New Jersey) have one or more state songs, selected by the state legislature as a symbol of the state.
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