You Are My Sunshine was composed in 1939 by Charles Mitchell and Jimmy Davis. Davis, the better-known member of this songwriting team, was a country and gospel singer who occasionally sang risqué songs like Pistol Packin' Papa and Pussy Blues. In addition to writing classic country favorites like It Makes No Difference Now, Nobody's Darling but Mine, and Sunshine, he acted in a few B-movies and served as Louisiana's governor from 1944 to 1948. Davis was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame at the age of seventy in 1972.
What did Aretha Franklin--and Ray Charles before her--have in mind when they recorded a song that seems on the surface to be "too white" for a soul singer? Although the differences between a country musician's version of the song and Aretha Franklin Sunshine with its striking divergences from the original's text and melody are obvious, there are a few important similarities. Both soul music and country music come out of and are directed to groups of people reared in the South. Soul singer Jerry Butler remarked that soul music and country both deal with mundane concerns: