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  • Writer's pictureSimon Rushby

Georgia On My Mind by Ray Charles (written by Hoagy Carmichael)

#listeneveryday 2 Mar 2021

Songwriter and bandleader Hoagy Carmichael wrote Georgia On My Mind in 1930, while he was living in New York. The story goes that he and his room-mate, a banker named Stuart Gorrell, were looking out of the window at the wet weather and decided to write a song together about the warmer southern state. However Carmichael had a sister named Georgia and it's possible the song is about her. Interestingly it was the only lyric that Gorrell ever wrote - perhaps one of the greatest 'one hit wonders' in musical history!

Ray Charles recorded perhaps the most successful version of this song - it was his first US number 1 single, reaching the top spot in 1960. Charles came from Georgia, and despite losing his sight at the age of 7 was a prodigious pianist, strongly influenced by blues, rhythm and blues and gospel styles. He idolised artists such as Louis Jordan and Nat King Cole, and blended these styles together to create his own sound, which many identified as the beginning of soul music.

In 1979 the Georgia General Assembly adopted Georgia On My Mind as their state song. It's one of my favourite songs of all time (possibly slightly influenced by the fact that I have a daughter named Georgia!) and there have been many other versions by artists such as Billie Holiday, Annie Lennox and Michael Bublé.

More to listen to

Here's Ray Charles's original 1960 recording of Georgia On My Mind.

I love this version by jazz great Billie Holiday, recorded in 1941.

Another classic from Ray Charles - Hit The Road Jack from 1961.

Another classic from Hoagy Carmichael - this is Stardust as recorded by Nat King Cole.

A new #listeneveryday post is published every weekday! Comment below or tweet @SimonRushby with your suggestions for future music.

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