Ukulele Chords for You Are My Sunshine

Published Categorized as Ukulele

Where would the world be without this classic, this easy ukulele clad clanger? Where would the ears of lovers be without the whispering of these sweet nothings for affirmation. With imagery and similes much inspired by many of the Romantic poets, this song plunders these modes of communication to deliver universal messages of love and candor, and delivers them through the ukulele chords for You Are My Sunshine.

This song, though made very famous by Johnny Cash amongst many others, was not actually composed by him or them or anyone you might be thinking.

Like many other country artists, and much akin to the tradition in folk and jazz circles simultaneously, Johnny Cash was inclined towards covering other artists’ material as well as his own. Such is the tradition, that new life is breathed into often very old traditional songs simply by virtue of their being resurrected in the flesh and voice of another.

The Story of You Are My Sunshine

The song seemingly appeared out of nowhere, on a single by The Pine Ridge Boys in August of 1939, with no song writer being listed. Another group, The Rice Brothers’ Gang, recorded the song the following month of the same year, credited the song to a Mr Paul Rice.

On January of the following year, the song was copyrighted by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell, recorded the month afterwards in February, receiving song writing credit and having their names stay with it when the copyright was renewed. Since these times, the stories of ownership and who composed the song have only become more complicated. Paul Rice, the person whom many believe actually wrote it, had this to say:

‘I wrote ‘You Are my Sunshine’ in 1937. Where I got the idea for it, a girl over in South Carolina wrote me this long letter – it was long about seventeen pages. And she was talking about how I was her sunshine. I got the idea for the song and put a tune to it… At least 20 people claimed to have written ‘You Are My Sunshine.’ I had a gal write me from California that she wrote it’

Artists Who Have Covered You Are My Sunshine

The list of artists who have performed and recorded this song is innumerable, especially as more and more prospective guitarists such as yourself pick up the ukulele and show it what for, with the very same ukulele chords for You Are My Sunshine that all of these artists used in their performances. The comprehensive list includes but is not limited to:

  • The Pine Ridge Boys
  • Rice Brothers’ Gang
  • Jimmie Davis with Charles Mitchell’s Orchestra
  • Montana Slim
  • Gene Autry
  • Bing Crosby
  • Tex Ritter
  • Nat King Cole
  • Johnny & The Thunderbirds
  • Ray Charles
  • Dick Dale and His Del-Tones
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Gene Vincent
  • Ike and Tina Turner
  • Count Basie
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Bryan Ferry
  • Chuck Berry
  • Willie Nelson
  • Leatherface
  • Low
  • Chas & Dave
  • Bill Haley
  • Johnny Cash
  • Brian Wilson
  • The Beach Boys
  • Ray Charles with Chris Isaak
  • Jessie Lee Miller
  • Frank Turner
  • Bob Dylan
  • Duane Eddy
  • George Russell Sextet
  • The Ventures
  • Milt Jackson
  • Booker T & The MGs

An illustrious list I’m sure we can all agree, of artists from genres and styles wide and far, coming together through the simple love of a love song so universal that it crosses barriers of race, class, gender, culture, language, and socio geographical climates world wide, perhaps even dressing the extra terrestrial eyelids of an alien tuning into earth radio with delicate astral tears that behave like cling film in zero gravity.

Chords and Lyrics for You Are My Sunshine

Given that the entirety of the song can be played with just four chords, it would be pertinent to explore the lyrics in more detail, though before we go on the chords will be detailed below:

The ukulele chords for You Are My Sunshine: Am – C – Dm – F

The chords and the key signatures may vary from version to version; this is so ubiquitous a song as to be part of the collective subconscious, though I’m sure you’ll do just fine in working your own version out against this version.

The Lyrics Themselves

The other night, dear
As I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you, in my arms
When I awoke, dear
I was mistaken
So I hung my head and I cried
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
I’ll always love you
And make you happy
And nothing else could come between
But if you leave me to allow another
You’ll have shattered all of my dreams
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

Final Tones

So, there you have it, I hope you are very much the wiser and clued in on how to navigate the ukulele chords for You Are My Sunshine, whether in the version made famous by Johnny Cash or in any other of the countless permutations for that matter. No doubt your own favorite artist has made their own version: can you find yours?

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *