“Georgia On My Mind” has been covered dozens of times since Hoagy Carmichael recorded it in September 1930. But Ray Charles has claimed the song’s signature version for over fifty years.
“Georgia On My Mind” was featured on the 1960 album, The Genius Hits the Road. Each track covered a song about a USA state or city: “Alabamy Bound,” “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” “Blue Hawaii,” “Moon Over Miami,” “Basin Street Blues (New Orleans, Louisiana),” and seven others. “Georgia On My Mind” was the album’s biggest hit.
In 1979, after Charles performed the song at the State Capitol, the Georgia General Assembly designated it the official state song. It was an overdue reconciliation between Georgia officials and Charles over Jim Crow issues from earlier episodes in his career.
Willie Nelson’s 1978 cover version of “Georgia On My Mind” from the album Stardust won a Grammy award. Nelson performed the song at Charles’s funeral in 2004.
“Georgia On My Mind” is available in various formats on many Ray Charles albums. Please consider purchasing them from a local independent record store.
Every record has some particularly fascinating facts behind it; here are a few for this one. In 1997, a new version of The Genius Hits the Road was released with several new tracks. The new songs included “Blue Moon in Kentucky,” “Rainy Night in Georgia,” and “Hit The Road Jack,” another Charles classic. In 2009 another expanded version was released. It included a Charles cover of the Beatles classic, “The Long and Winding Road.”