Georgia on My Mind.
I’d decided for some reason that I was going to listen to the different versions of “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer,” but I only came up with seven or so. I tried “Georgia” next. Voila.
There are over 130 published recordings of the song “Georgia on My Mind.” I listened to snippets of at least that many, anyway. This is one of the great things about online music services — other people spend years pursing this kind of knowledge; I spent a somewhat obsessive four hours or so. I’ve always liked the song. I’ve always been a little weird. So there you go.
The song was written by Stuart Gorrell and Hoagy Carmichael in 1930 for a woman named Georgia. Ray Charles, in 1979, performed it in front of the Georgia General assembly as a symbol of reconciliation after the civil rights movement, and the state adopted it as its official state song.
The versions that I listened to ranged from the sensual to the reminiscent to the merry. One of the things I learned, oddly enough, is that “Georgia” isn’t a song to be screwed around with too much. The two versions that deviated most from the range of blues/soul/bluegrass, by Deep Purple and some kind of odd band playing a calliope, were both pretty awful. I think it’s because the song is about memory and a mixture of love and regret that well-established musical styles are more appropriate. But I’d be glad of a contradiction.
(Also, for anyone who’s interested in that kind of thing, it’s meta-music: the lyrics refer to “an old, sweet song.” There’s no song that brings Georgia to mind, either the person or the state, than the song itself.)
Here are my top ten, in no particular order:
Mike Aldridge (Country/Western Fingerpickin’)
Dinah Shore (Golden Oldies, probably originally recorded in the ’40’s)
Hoagy Carmichael (I want to say Swingin’ Jazz)
Ray Charles (Blues)
Dale Miller (Blues Fingerpickin’)
Mullins and Gillispe (Blues/Jazz Fingerpickin’)
Susie Thorne (Jazz)
Mildred Bailey (Out-Holidays Billie)
Tony Rice (Country, almost Country-Western)
Herbie Mann (Jazz Flute)
I had to throw out some pretty good songs to get down to these ten, too. Except for the two versions mentioned above, all of the versions were good to listen to.