“Georgia On My Mind” was written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorell. The song was about and named for Carmichael’s sister Georgia. His recording that year would be the first of dozens for the song during the next three decades. It would become a well respected but minor jazz classic.
All that would change in 1960 when Ray Charles recorded it for his The Genius Hits The Road Again album. The track would be released as a single in late September and fifty years ago this week topped The American singles chart for one week. It was the first number one pop hit of Ray Charles’ career. Rolling Stone Magazine would rate it at number 44 on their list of The Greatest Songs Of All Time. The state of Georgia made it their official song in 1979.
His version is just laid back and flows easily along. It remains one of the best performances of his career or anyone else’s for that matter.
It was also an important song as it helped to integrate the pop charts as Charles was known for being a rhythm & blues artist at this point in his career but now had taken a big step toward mainstream success.
“Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles remains an iconic performance and deservedly ruled the American music world fifty years ago.