Sunshine, Wild Tchoupitoulas honored

Advocate file photo by Art Kleiner -- In this 1963 photo, Gov. Jimmie Davis, far right, and three members of his quartet, the Plainsmen, entertain the Louisiana Legislature in its final day of the session.  The Plainsmen were left to right, Howard Wellborn, Rusty Goodman and Larry Denham.  They sang a parody to
Advocate file photo by Art Kleiner -- In this 1963 photo, Gov. Jimmie Davis, far right, and three members of his quartet, the Plainsmen, entertain the Louisiana Legislature in its final day of the session. The Plainsmen were left to right, Howard Wellborn, Rusty Goodman and Larry Denham. They sang a parody to "I'll Get Along Somehow" and then led the Legislature in singing "You Are My Sunshine."

The famous song “You Are My Sunshine,” by former Gov. Jimmie Davis, and the 1976 album by the Wild Tchoupitoulas group of Mardi Gras Indians are both entering the federal Library of Congress on Thursday as part of the nation’s history.

Davis’ song and the Wild Tchoupitoulas’ album, which also featured members of The Neville Brothers family, were chosen as two of 25 annual entries for the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress as culturally and historically significant recordings.

Other entries ranged from “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd to the 1944 D-Day radio broadcast by George Hicks.

Other new entries with Louisiana ties include “Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1” by famed pianist Van Cliburn, who was born in Shreveport and died last month, and the 1959 debut album “The Shape of Jazz to Come,” by Odette Coleman, who lived in New Orleans for a period of time in the 1940s.

Although it is debated whether Gov. Davis originally wrote “You Are My Sunshine,” he recorded it in 1940 and used it to bolster his successful run for governor in 1944. The “singing governor” served a second, non-consecutive term as governor starting in 1960. He died in 2000 at the age of 101.

Davis is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and “You Are My Sunshine” was named the official state song in 1977.

“It subsequently became one of the most popular country-music songs of all time and has been recorded by artists in the U.S. and abroad in many styles,” according to the Library of Congress.

U.S. Rep Rodney Alexander, who hails from near Quitman just like Davis, praised the selection of “You Are My Sunshine.”

“As our official state song recorded by a two-term state governor of the Bayou State, ‘You Are My Sunshine’ represents the truly colorful heritage of Louisiana,” Alexander said. “This is an honor for all Louisianians, as only a select few recordings are added to the National Registry each year. Throughout history, our people are as unique as our state’s traditions and this nod to Jimmie Davis and his famous tune represents much we have to be proud of.”

The “Wild Tchoupitoulas” album featured such iconic New Orleans songs as “Indian Red” and “Hey Pocky A-Way.”

The Wild Tchoupitoulas was

originally a group of Mardi Gras Indians formed in the early 1970s by George Landry, also called Big Chief Jolly, who was an uncle of the Neville brothers.

The call-and-response album was recorded with the help of The Meters, which at the time included George Porter Jr. and Art and Cyril Neville. Aaron Neville also participated. The album was produced by famed New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint. The Library of Congress noted that the album honored Mardi Gras Indian history and created musical history in the process.

“The Meters and the other Nevilles formed the backing group for the Wild Tchoupitoulas album, and with Landry and the other Wild Tchoupitoulas, they celebrated this century-old tradition and broke new musical ground at the same time,” according to the Library of Congress. “Although it was not a success outside of New Orleans, the album has attained classic status and marked the beginning of The Neville Brothers as a performing group.”