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Georgia On My Mind by Ray Charles

Album: Genius Hits The RoadReleased: 1960Charted:
  • This was written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell in 1930. Carmichael was an actor, performer, and popular songwriter - some of his other compositions include "Stardust" and "Winter Moon." Gorrell was a banker living in New York City, and he wrote the lyrics.
  • It's possible that this was written about a woman, not the state. Carmichael and Gorrell didn't live in Georgia, but Carmichael did have a sister named Georgia.
  • This was a #10 hit for a jazz saxophone player named Frankie Trumbauer in 1931. Many artists have recorded it over the years, including Louis Armstrong, James Brown (a Georgia native), Django Reinhardt, and Willie Nelson. Charles' version is by far the most famous.
  • Charles decided to record this song after his driver suggested it, since Ray kept singing it while riding in the car.
  • Ray Charles was born in Albany, Georgia. His family moved to Florida when he was still a baby.
  • The orchestra was arranged by Ralph Burns, Woody Herman's pianist.
  • This was recorded quickly in New York City - it took only four takes to complete (compared to Charles' usual 10-12 takes).
  • This won Grammy awards for Best Male Vocal Recording and Best Pop Song Performance. The album also won for Best Male Vocal Performance Album, and another song on the album, "Let the Good Times Roll," won for Best R&B Performance, giving Charles a total of four Grammys in 1960.
  • Five different versions of this song have made the US Hot 100. Here the four that came after Charles' recording:

    Righteous Brothers (#62, 1966)
    Georgia Pines Candymen (#81, 1967)
    Wes Montgomery (#91, 1968)
    Willie Nelson (#84, 1978)
    Michael Bolton (#36, 1990)
  • This was the first of three #1 singles on the US Hot 100 for Ray Charles. "Hit the Road, Jack" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" are his others.
  • On April 24, 1979, this became the official state song of Georgia, replacing a song title "Georgia." Ray Charles performed the song the ceremony that day, where it was decreed:

    The song "Georgia on My Mind," with lyrics by Mr. Stuart Gorrell and music by Mr. Hoagy Carmichael, has an enduring quality that has made it one of the best loved songs in America for many years.

    Although "Georgia on My Mind" describes a Georgian's love for his state, its beautiful melody and lyrics have given the song a worldwide appeal.

    "Georgia on My Mind" has been recorded by many outstanding artists, but the rendition by Mr. Ray Charles, a native Georgian, which was first recorded in 1958, has been greatly enjoyed by music lovers throughout the world.

    It is appropriate that the official State song should be a beautiful song that has wide appeal throughout the country, and "Georgia on My Mind" is an outstanding example of these qualities.
  • Willie Nelson sang this at Charles' funeral in 2004.
  • Charles won eight awards at the 2005 Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year and Album of the Year (for Genius Loves Company). He was honored throughout the show; Alicia Keys and Jamie Foxx performed this as part of the tribute. Foxx had recently portrayed Charles in the movie Ray.
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Comments: 31

On May 19th 1965, Ray Charles performed "Georgia On My Mind" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!"...
Five years earlier on September 26th, 1960 the song entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #94; seven weeks later on November 14th, 1960 it would peak at #1 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 13 weeks...
It reached #3 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart; it was the third of five straight Top 10 records by Mr. Charles, started with "Sticks and Stones" {#2}, "Them That Got" {#10}, this one, then "Ruby" {#10}, and finally "Hit the Road Jack" {#1 for 5 weeks}...
The 'Genius'; born Ray Charles Robinson, passed away on June 10th, 2004 at the age of 73...
May he R.I.P.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On February 7th 1989, Georgia state representative Billy Randall sponsored a bill to make "Tutti-Frutti" the official state song. The bill did not pass...
Ten years earlier on April 24th, 1979 the State of Georgia's General Assembly had adopted "Georgia On My Mind" as the official state song.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Charles + Music = GeniusAshley - Edmond, Ok
When "Georgia On My Mind" became Georgia's state song, Ray Charles was invited to sing it in the state capital building in Atlanta. To see and hear this black man honored by the legislature of a state formerly in the Confederacy was a great experience I will never forget.Kerry - Greenville, Tx
There are a few live recordings of Deep Purple that features a medley including "Georgia On My Mind" sung by Glenn Hughes.Laurent - Manama, Bahrain
Pure Soul. Ray's recordings with his Orchestra were an inspiration to British pop R&B singers and musicians like myself in the 60s.
Saw Ray live at the Victoria Theatre London 1964.
Unfortunatly Ray did too much jazzy improvisation on 'Georgia On My Mind' and in my mind ruined it.
The trouble with many famous artistes is maybe not being satisfied with the recorded version that is imprinted in our minds and messing about with notes and tempo's etc. Elvis for one.
That said Brilliant talents that get it right on vynil. Amen
Terry - Wakefield, United Kingdom
I'm too young to have kids now but I love this song SO much that if I have a girl, I'm naming her Georgia Mae after this song.Chelsea - Wichita, Ky
i love when ray sings this, he put's so much feeling into it. i believe he wanted to sing this after he was banned from georgia for not playing at that concert.

And im sure he thought this was the perfect way to get his feelings across
Eden - Folsom, Ca
According to more than one source, but pulled from the song's Wikipedia Page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_on_My_Mind) the song was written by Gorrell about Hoagy's sister, Georgia Carmichael.Jeffrey - Vancouver, Wa
I didn't know anything about the composers of "Georgia on My Mind"--or that one of them, Hoagy Carmichael, had a sister named Georgia--until I found this site, but it was always clear to me that the song was originally about a woman, even though the U.S. state of Georgia later adopted it as its official song. I was a Beatles fan before I'd heard of Ray Charles, but I learned that the band was influenced by Charles and other R&B artists. Paul McCartney's reference to "Georgia on My Mind" in "Back in the U.S.S.R"--rendered as "and Georgia's always on my mind"--is both a reference to the former Soviet republic of Georgia, and a tribute to Ray Charles. "Back in the U.S.S.R" is a tribute to the Beach Boys & "California Girls", of course.Helen - Campbell, Ca
This song has absolutely NOTHING to do with the state of Georgia. Hoagy Carmichael was born just north of my hometown of Kokomo, Indiana in Peru, Indiana, not in Georgia and attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana! He wrote this song when he was in New York City writing a score for a Broadway musical. The song is, in deed, dedicated to his sister Georgia who he was very close to and missed while he was in New York City. My parents were friends of Hoagy Carmichael and he told them how and why this song was written! (thanks - Stormy Werbe, Kokomo, Indiana)Stormy - Kokomo, In
Ray was a genius, great voice, broke every rule of singing and still managed to kick buns. I heard usher do this on the grammys a couple years ago as a tribute and it was amazing. with clips of the movie starring jamie foxx as ray. Usher's not quite as soulful, but still a great tribute.Nicole - N/a, Wi
I'm german but my family and I moved to Georgia when I was still pretty young... We moved back to Germany last year. Everytime I listen to this song now, I remember the great time I had over in the states. The song is perfect for doing this!!!Joelle - Atlanta, Ga
whenever someone older hears this song, whether on the radio or i-pod they get really reflective i've always wondered why...a very good song.Nathan - From The Country Of, Canada
Ray Charles best, at least from what I've heard so far. I've got his greatest hit's CD and it's the best one on there.Jon - Oakridge, Or
Stuart Gorell wrote the lyrics first and dedicated it to Hoagy Carmichael's sister Georgia Carmichael. Hoagy wrote music later. I am from the country of Georgia (Black Sea Coast) and this song is very popular here.Ramaz - Tiflis, Europe
to Linda in London who said...."In the Beatles song Back In The U.S.S.R., Paul McCartney sings "thats Georgia's always on my my my my my mind" just thought i'd share that"
.Georgia is a state/province in Russia/USSR.
Greg - Victoria, Canada
This song was also covered by Van Morrison or Maceo Parker (live). The Spencer Davis Group recorded an incredible cover of that song, with a deep soul-blues tempo over the verses and choruses, and an upbeat-jazzy tempo over the piano solo.Julien - Strasbourg, France
A great song about the state of Georgia. Played every night on local PBS station along with video clips of different parts of the state, inluding Atlanta's skyline, Savannah, Stone Mountain Park, the N. GA Mountains, Athens, and other places as a sign-off signal. Also played at Stone Mountain Park's laser show w/ a moving tribute.Patrick - Tallapoosa, Ga
Definately one of the most ingenious musicians of all time at work in this song.Casey - Chicago, Il
To be honest, I like Willie Nelson's adaptation of "Geogia On My Mind" because his has a feel good quality to it. His version is one of those songs you like to hear while in the Smoky Mountains or North Georgia.Kye - Tullahoma, Tn
Boz Scaggs also recorded a cover version of Georgia on My Mind.Howard - St. Louis Park, Mn
This is now the official state song of Georgia. It is the only pop song to be an official state song, although the theme song for the Broadway musical "Oklahoma!" is now that state's official song.Ken - Louisville, Ky
In the Beatles song Back In The U.S.S.R., Paul McCartney sings "thats Georgia's always on my my my my my mind" just thought i'd share thatLuna - London, England
This is #44 in Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.Ross - Independence, Mo
This is actually #44. SorryRoss - Independence, Mo
Truly a great song. Ray is a genius who will be missed.Matt - Millbrae, Ca
A couple other artists that recorded this song were Billie Holiday (Jazz Vocalist) and Wes Montgomery (Jazz Guitarist).Nicole - Apple Valley, Mn
One of the most beautiful songs ever recorded. Charles was a genius.Allison - New York, Ny
Title song in the 1977 Academy nominated claymation short "Jimmy The C" by Jimmy Picker.Robert - San Francisco, Ca
Became the theme song for one season of "Designing Women", with Ray Charles playing in the intro.Deana - Indianapolis, In
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