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Georgia On My Mind: Song of the Day for September 15

Nobody is associated more with our song of the day than Ray Charles. But the music for “Georgia On My Mind” was written by Hoagy Carmichael. Stuart Gorell wrote the lyrics.

Carmichael recorded it September 15, 1930.

Neither Carmichael nor Gorell were from Georgia. Neither had been to Georgia before writing the song. Both were born in Indiana and were roommates at Indiana University.

Saxaphonist Frank Trumbauer suggested Georgia as a subject, according to Carmichael’s biographer. The song was not about Carmichael’s sister Georgia, as some people said.

“Nobody ever lost money writing songs about the South,” Trumbauer is quoted as saying. He offered up the first two words, “Georgia, Georgia.”

Then, Carmichael showed the song he was working on to Gorell. They finished at their apartment.

Gorell never wrote another lyric. He kept his day job as a banker and became vice president of Chase Bank.

Gorell also never received a writer’s credit for the song, but his loyal friend Carmichael always sent him royalty checks.

Carmichael’s version reached the top ten in 1931. Gene Krupa had a hit with a big band version in 1941.

Ray Charles recorded his version in 1960, and it reached number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart.

Ella Fitzgerald and Willie Nelson recorded the song after Charles re-popularized it. Nelson’s 1978 version won a Grammy.

The state of Georgia adopted the version by Ray Charles as its state song in 1979.

Song of the Day is created by Sheldon Zoldan, produced by Pam James, with audio editing by Simon Dunham with WGCU.
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