When we were children, we used to memorize songs taught in school and sing them on and on again at home or at any occasion. Most of us can sing the nursery rhyme “You are my Sunshine” without looking at any copy. However, it was when I became a teacher and started teaching songs to kids that I realized how lonely the song is behind its upbeat rhythm.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away
The chorus, which we are most familiar with, indeed connotes a positive disposition. It suggests happiness and inspiration. Wait until you digest the other paragraphs, and you’ll realize the pain and heartbreak the narrator is going through.
The other night dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
But when I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I bowed my head and I cried
How does it feel when you’ve been savoring the happiness and wonders of being in love, only to find out it was only a dream? You probably wish you never woke up.
In all my dreams, dear, you seem to leave me
When I awake my poor heart pains
So when you come back and make me happy
I’ll forgive you dear, I’ll take all the blame
The narrator also exemplifies forgiveness. Though the person he loves lied and left for no good reason, he is still willing to take her back, and even take the blame.
When I realized all these implications from the song, I wonder if children really understood what they’re singing when they play the song. But anyway, because of its jive, many claim it to be uplifting especially during lonesome days. Undeniably, it also brings back childhood memories that often melt our hearts and make us feel at home again.
The song’s Origin
Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell take the credit for the song’s rights but records say Davis bought the song and rights from Paul Rice, he just added his name to it. Earlier versions of the song have also been crediting the Rice Brothers. “You are my Sunshine” is believed to have first been performed at a Veterans of Foreign Wars in Georgia. That was dated back to 1933.
Davis, being a governor and at the same time a country singer, sang the song at all his campaign rallies while riding on a horse named Sunshine. The song was eventually declared one of Louisiana’s state song.
Since its first official release in 1939, the song has been recorded over 350 times in different genres by various artists which include Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Gene Autry, Bing Crosby and many other more.
Today, the song is still almost instantly recognizable by most Americans. The song evokes memories of a happy childhood, falling in love and the simple joy of being together.