Why Uncle Bob? I don’t have one of those…but I do have a Momma who’s kind of like a miracle worker. I know that, when I have a problem that I’m really really REALLY stuck in, then Mom’s the one I’ve got to call for advice (and also call her when I’m not stuck, when there are good things she’d like to know). Sometimes, though, I come with a problem not expecting a fix, but then she’s awesome and figures something out anyway. She’s quite cool, and I’m sure that many of you have the same experience with Mommas. I only hope to be that cool and wonderful and smart someday when I become one, too!
My Momma and I share a song, and it’s one of my favorite songs in the whole world. Ever since I was tiny, we’ve sung the song “You Are My Sunshine,” but primarily the happy chorus. When I sing that first verse, I think of her. When I sing the rest, it’s for pleasure because it’s such a good song. I didn’t find out until much later that the song is actually quite sad! It’s lost its original purpose was apparently not for kids (as you might figure out by looking at the rest of the lyrics). View the verses below:
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.
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;.
Here’s where most renditions of the song (especially the popular remakes) wrap up. Up to here, it’s actually a song of potential and actual heartbreak. The potential part comes from the conditional clauses (if you…) and future phrasing (You will) of the second stanza and the warning at the end (“you’ll regret it all someday”). The actual loss can be seen in the past tense of the third stanza, after the event of the lover leaving. The first full stanza is also in past tense, but perhaps reflects the idea that the lover has already left somehow, so the second stanza is pleading for a return, while the following is a stanza of bitter regret. Definitely not intended for the little ones.
The following stanzas are floating around, though they tend to get cut off in remakes. Apparently (according to the Deusner article above), this became a campaign song for Jimmie Davis, who obtained the rights from the original penman of the song, Paul Rice. Davis was running for governor of Louisiana in 1944, so these were apt.
Louisiana my Louisiana
the place where I was borne.
White fields of cotton
— green fields 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;.
This song was originally posted at:
It’s still one of the dearest songs to me, though. When I’m happy, I sing it to make myself happier. When I’m sad, it helps to cheer me up a little. Another quote from the Deusner article:
The song is the ultimate crossover hit — so broadly popular that many people may not be aware of its hillbilly origins. But what makes it endure? Why has “You Are My Sunshine” survived when other songs of the era have fallen by the wayside, largely forgotten except for a few country historians and enthusiasts? Perhaps the song’s most obvious quality is its simplicity. It’s not a hard song to sing, especially if you omit the verses. All the notes are clustered in the mid-range, so it doesn’t take a Dolly Parton to hit the high notes or a Johnny Cash to hit the low ones. Even those people who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket can sing “You Are My Sunshine.” And given how the melody ascends and descends so fluidly, it’s actually fun to sing. The beat falls predictably and faithfully, so it’s almost impossible not to nod your head or tap your toe. It’s compact and easy: one of the most insistent earworms of the last century.
Not only is the song pretty, it’s easy for just about anyone to sing. I’m glad that my Momma passed the song on to me!
So. Always call Momma. She’s home and sunshine and miracles and love.