In his youth, country crooner Jimmie Davis (1899-2000) was something of a bad boy... In the 1920s and '30s he sang dirty blues songs in a style that echoed Jimmie Rodgers, the so-called "Singing Brakeman," who was the preeminent country music star of the time. Davis later went legit, scoring a smash hit in 1940 with the sweet, sentimental love song, "You Are My Sunshine," which cemented Davis's place in the country music pantheon. When he went into politics, Davis used "Sunshine" as his campaign song, and rode into office as the Governor of the State of Louisiana (an office he held twice, from 1944-48 and 1960-64). "You Are My Sunshine" eventually became the state song, and Davis became a respectable, establishment figure, firmly entrenched in the state's Democratic Party machine. For most of his later career, he concentrated his creative energy on gospel music, recording a truly astounding number of religious albums, with an occasional secular record from time to time. It is amazing, though, that virtually none of his gospel material has made it into print in the CD era... Nonetheless, here's a look at his career, both the sacred and the profane...
Jimmie Davis "Country Music Hall Of Fame" (MCA, 1991)
This is quite a nice selection of early Jimmie Davis material from the 1930s and '40s, zeroing in on his early heartsongs and secular material. Good sound quality and song selection. Highly recommended, particularly if you're just looking to get your feet wet and give the guy a try.
Jimmie Davis "Nobody's Darling But Mine: 1928-1937" (Bear Family, 1998)
In the 1980s, the Bear Family label resurrected Davis's long-lost career as a smutty "hokum" blues singer, with a pair of LPs that gathered some choice examples of his early, Depression-era recordings. This 5-CD set vastly expands on that remarkable archival effort, and gives a rich look at the bluesy country music of the countless Jimmie Rodgers acolytes of the time. And of those Rodgers imitators, Jimmie Davis was certainly one of the best. This is a great set of ancient country'n'blues material; well worth checking out!
Jimmie Davis "You Are My Sunshine: 1937-1948" (Bear Family, 1998)
This second 5-CD set picks up where the last one left off, and tracks Davis's career as he cruised into the commercial country mainstream, most notably as the singer of "You Are My Sunshine," a million-selling hit single that became one of the best-known songs in the world. Throughout the 1940s, Davis was a solid seller and a major country star. These are his prime country recordings, and it's also mainly secular material -- a major change from almost everything he recorded after LPs became the main musical medium. If you want to hear Davis as a "real" country singer, this is it, the motherlode. As is always the case with Bear Family releases, this has greta sound quality and copious, aesthetically pleasing liner notes. Recommended!
Jimmie Davis "Greatest Hits -- Finest Performances" (Sun Entertainment, 1999)
Re-recorded versions of old-time Davis standards, possibly from 1970s vintage... (Anyone know for sure..?)
Jimmie Davis "Louisiana" (Bloodshot, 2000)
Apparently this was the soundtrack to one of those silly Hollywood films that pulled Davis away from his duties as the Louisiana State governor... There are both vocal and instrumental versions of several of his best-known songs, notably "You Are My Sunshine," "It Makes No Diffence Now," and "You Won't Be Satisfied That Way." It's a nice, lively set from 1947, back when Davis was still really engaged with his music. Worth checking out!
Jimmie Davis "Where The Old Red River Flows" (BACM, 2005)
(Available through the British Archive of Country Music website.)
Jimmie Davis "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" (Allegro, 2001)
This budget-line 2-CD set is a cheaper way to check out Davis's early years... Not much in the way of artwork or liner notes, but there is a bunch of vintage material to check out...
Jimmie Davis "Jimmie Davis" (Decca, 1954)
Jimmie Davis "Near The Cross" (Decca, 1955)
Although this was his first gospel LP, he had been releasing gospel 78s for many years earlier...
Jimmie Davis "Hymn Time" (Decca, 1957)
Jimmie Davis "The Door Is Always Open" (Decca, 1958)
Jimmie Davis "You Are My Sunshine" (Decca, 1959)
Jimmie Davis "Suppertime" (Decca, 1959)
(Produced by Owen Bradley)
Jimmie Davis & The Anita Davis Singers "Hail Him With A Song" (Decca, 1959) (LP)
(Produced by Owen Bradley)
A solid gospel album, with a surprisingly rootsy feel, including some tasty, twangy guitar riffs on a tune or two. There are also some churchy numbers, but they also have a nice rough edge -- lofty, but earthy as well. There miraculously little of the too-smooth, snoozy feel that a lot of the country crooners put into their gospel work. Anyway, as old-timer gospel albums go, this one's pretty good. Wish I knew who the session players were... I'm thinking maybe Grady Martin was on guitar? Anybody know for sure? (By the way, this picture of the album is a later edition: originally they misspelled his name as "Jimmy." Ouch.)
Jimmie Davis "No One Stands Alone" (Vocalion, 1960)
Jimmie Davis "Someone To Care" (Decca, 1960)
Jimmie Davis "Sweet Hour Of Prayer" (Decca, 1960)
Jimmie Davis "Someone Watching Over You" (Decca, 1961)
Jimmie Davis "Songs Of Faith" (Decca, 1962)
Jimmie Davis "How Great Thou Art" (Decca, 1962)
Jimmie Davis "Beyond The Shadows" (Decca, 1963)
Jimmie Davis "Highway To Heaven" (Decca, 1963)
Jimmie Davis "Jimmie Davis Sings" (Decca, 1964)
Jimmie Davis "It's Christmas Time Again" (Decca, 1964)
Jimmie Davis "At The Crossing" (Decca, 1965)
Jimmie Davis "Still I Believe" (Decca, 1965)
Jimmie Davis "My Altar" (Decca, 1965)
Jimmie Davis "Gospel Hour" (Decca, 1966)
Jimmie Davis "Going Home For Christmas" (Decca, 1967)
Jimmie Davis "His Marvelous Grace" (Decca, 1967)
Jimmie Davis "Singing The Gospel" (Decca, 1968)
Jimmie Davis "Greatest Hits" (Decca, 1968)
All gospel material.
Jimmie Davis "The Country Side Of Jimmie Davis" (Decca, 1968)
Jimmie Davis "Let Me Walk With Jesus" (Decca, 1969)
Jimmie Davis "Songs Of Consolation" (Decca, 1970)
Jimmie Davis "The Old Baptizing Creek" (Decca, 1971)
Jimmie Davis "What A Happy Day" (Decca, 1972)
Jimmie Davis "Memories Coming Home" (Decca, 1972)
Jimmie Davis "God's Last Altar Call" (MCA, 1973)
Jimmie Davis "Greatest Hits, v.2" (MCA, 1974)
All gospel material.
Jimmie Davis "Souvenirs Of Yesterday" (Paula, 1974)
Jimmie Davis "Sunshine" (Paula, 1975)
Jimmie Davis "Lord Let Me Be There" (Canaan, 1974)
Jimmie Davis "Christ Is My Sunshine" (Canaan, 1975)
Jimmie Davis "Living By Faith" (Canaan, 1975)
Jimmie Davis "Live" (Canaan, 1976)
Jimmie Davis "Put Jesus First" (Canaan, 1976)
Jimmie Davis "Soul Train To Glory" (Canaan, 1979)
Jimmie Davis "Immortal Songs" (Canaan, 1980)
Jimmie Davis "1930s Decca Hillbilly Series" (MCA, 1977)
Jimmie Davis "The Best Of Jimmie Davis" (MCA, 1977)
Hick Music Index