Kathy Maresca, author

Songs from Porch Music: You Are My Sunshine

You are my sunshine

Some songs hold a universal note, appealing to almost everyone in some way. “You Are My Sunshine” is one of those tunes, and it is featured in the early pages of “Porch Music.” Janie’s mother, Bessie, sings it to thirteen-year-old Janie. Although the young teen believes she has outgrown this song, she keeps her thoughts private.

Like fictional character Janie, so many of us of have heard our mothers or grandmothers sing the chorus of “You Are My Sunshine.” More than eighty years after it was recorded, the song airs on a television commercial today, sung by icon Johnny Cash. The chorus wraps around our souls, reassuring us that no matter what, we belong to someone.

The stanzas tell us, though, about unrequited love, the kind of pain that occurs when love flows out of us but stops at the door of another person’s heart. Whether we feel romantic love or affection for a family member, sometimes love stops on a dime. We face rejection, and the lament contained in “You Are My Sunshine” becomes part of who we are. How comforting it is, though, to remember maternal love, the belonging that lasts forever.

Covered by more artists than any of us can name, the lament was written by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell in 1940. Jimmie’s version can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckKeQNCyPBU