Almost 8 decades passed since Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell composed the song “You Are My Sunshine”. The two also recorded the song in 1939. “You Are My Sunshine” next to “Happy Birthday” and “My Toes, My Knees, My Shoulder, My Head” may be the second most popular song. Its popularity never fades with passing generations. Instead, it constantly comes back in various contexts. People sing it as a campfire sing-a-long. Parents sing it as a sweet lullaby to their child. We can hear it in commercials, movies, and politician campaign jingles.
From Jimmie Davis’ and Charles Mitchell’s cover, several artists have recorded the song a thousand times. Among the most popular covers are Bing Crosby and Gene Autry’s version that became a chart-topper in country charts. We can also hear it in a different genre which is far from the original country versions. In addition, Ray Charles and Ike & Tina Turner recorded a particularly exciting version. The tune was the centerpiece of Elizabeth Mitchell’s 2002 album You Are My Sunshine. Lastly, former 98° singer Nick Lachey included a solemn cover on his new children’s album A Father’s Lullaby.
Despite its sunshiny lyrics, however, there is a melancholy, mushy element to “You Are My Sunshine. It gives an image of a hazy sadness that emphasizes the innermost metaphor. The last line of the chorus implies some danger that the singer’s sunshine will be taken away.
When Johnny Cash made his own version of the song, he distinctively did a melancholy interpretation. While Cash performs the song with June, it becomes more of a serenade. Few country music duos can match the combination of Johnny’s deep voice and June’s folksy tremor. Perhaps it can also be because they are real-life sweethearts. They are probably the most popular real love story in country music.
From Johnny’s on-the-spot proposal to June in 1968 to the songs they made for each other, and the way the couple support one another are just a few of the reasons why we envy, adore, and long for the likes of, Cash and Carter’s marriage.
It is really like sunshine when these two perform together.
Johnny Cash, June Carter, you are my sunshine