You Are My Sunshine Chords

Download here: You Are My Sunshine Chords

A classic singalong tune, You Are My Sunshine was first recorded in 1939, and is a great one for beginner ukulele players.

Although it’s in a different key, I’ve linked to the lovely Elizabeth Mitchell version – a quick YouTube search will reveal hundreds of others!

Strumming

I normally suggest uke players stick to a simple, steady down-up-down-up strum:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
d u D u d u D u

If you like, you can put a slight emphasis on beats 2 and 4, which adds a bit of interest and makes the rhyhthm bounce a bit more.

11 Comments

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11 Responses to You Are My Sunshine Chords

  1. Ron

    Greetings! I just love the guitar in Elizabeth Mitchell’s version that you linked to. I would like to know details on how to play this guitar version. I want this version to be the first song on learn on the guitar. I have looked on the web without success to find the the tabs and strum for this version. Do you know where I might locate this info? Thanks in advance for the help.

    • jacobm

      Hi Ron, welcome! To play in the same key as Elizabeth Mitchell you’ll need a capo, which you place across your fretboard at Fret 1. You will then use G, C and D chord shapes. You’ll need to get my ukulele version above and replace all C or C7 chords with G, all F chords with C, and all G7 chords with D. I might do a song sheet for this if I get time. Strum-wise, you’ll need to do a “boom-chuck” style strum, which is bass-strum-bass-strum. Let me know if any further questions!

      • Ron

        Hey Jacob, thanks a bunch for the detailed information it’s greatly appreciated. . I think I understand it all. I will give it a try and see how it goes. Starting guitar at 71 is a bit of a challenge. (-: Being a beginner it may take me a while to get the hang of it.
        Ron

  2. Ron

    Hello again Jacob, I think I’m a bit confused by the tabs. When looking at ‘tabs’ that I’ve seen before a chord is shown each time you are to ‘Change’ chords. In looking at your tabs –

    You’ll never (F) know dear, (F) how much I (C) love you
    (C)
    Please don’t (C) take my (G7) sunshine a (C) way (C)

    You have the same chord repeated, such as in the above where there is (F) and then another (F), also there is a (C) followed by another (C). If I’m already with an (F) why does it show another (F) [same with the (C)]? Would you please clarify why they are repeated and what I am supposed to do? Thank you for your patience. Sorry, I’m just confused. )-:
    Ron

    • jacobm

      Hi Ron,

      If a chord is repeated just stay on the chord for an extra bar (i.e. 4 beats). For this song, I have written out every bar even if you’re staying on the same chord, as I sometimes find beginners get a bit confused about how long to stay on each chord. A single bar would be “bass-strum-bass-strum” or you could count “1-2-3-4”; so if a chord lasts for two bars you’ll need to count two lots of “1-2-3-4” on that chord.

      If this all feels like too much when you’re just starting out, don’t worry! Just try to get the chords and the melody, don’t worry about the strumming. Then you could try the chords and the strumming/counting (while forgetting the melody). Once you can keep the chords and strum going while talking about what you had for breakfast without losing your flow, then try adding the melody back in!

      Hope this helps. Feel free to ask if any more questions…

      Jacob

  3. Ron

    Hello again Jacob,

    I just realized that you are located in the UK while I’m the west coast of the US.! All your answers have be extremely helpful in getting me started with this song so again, thanks for your help.

    New questions – the more I listen to Elizabeth’s song the more 1) it sound to me like there are two guitars? 2) there seems to be something other than simple strumming going on, perhaps finger picking? Can you help out with the finger picking?

    all the best,
    Ron

    • jacobm

      Hello again Ron,

      Yes I live in Bristol, in the South West of England! I’m glad I’ve helped so far.

      For a beginner guitarist you are a good listener! Yes, there are two guitars throughout the song, one strumming and one fingerpicking (and I think a third one plays the guitar solo). The strumming guitar is a good place to start for a beginner, but if you do want to try the fingerpicking you’ll have to learn Travis-style fingerpicking. I usually only teach this to players once they have the basic chords and strums down.

      Travis picking is a technique in which your thumb alternates at a steady tempo between two bass strings (usually the 6 and 4th, or 5th and 4th strings, depending on the chord). Your other fingers either pinch the treble strings with the bass note, or fill in the gaps between each bass note.

      It’s quite a big topic so hard for me to go into more detail here, but I can recommend The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking by Mark Hanson if you want to explore it further. Once you’re getting the hang of some of the patterns you can try applying them to You Are My Sunshine.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Rone

    Hello again Jacob,

    Well, since our last contact I’m sad to say that my learning efforts, practice, have not been as diligent as they should have been. However, I wisely gave up on trying to jump way ahead in my lack of expertise and try Travis Picking – have to wait on that, haven’t been playing (?) long enough. But I have been practicing on making chord changes for this song and have gotten better, still have room for improvement.

    With that said, I must admit that I am a little embarrassed to have to ask more basic questions and hope that you can help out again. The beginning of the song as I have placed it into tabs looks like this:

    Intro
    | (G) | (D) | (G) | (G) |

    Chorus

    You are my (G) sunshine, (G) my only (G) sunshine (G)
    You make me (C) happy (C) when skies are (G) gray (G)
    You’ll never (C) know dear, (C) how much I (G) love you
    (G)
    Please don’t (G) take my (D) sunshine a (G) way (G)

    Now assuming that I have done the above per your prior note here are my questions:

    In the Intro, the space between each “|” with a chord indicates a bar, 4 strums in the chord. Correct?

    When the chorus begins am I suppose to ‘Read Ahead’ and see the first (G) and that is the chord I should begin with? And does that chord stay ‘active’ for 1 bar, 4 strums? That is while singing “You are my”, I should strum 4 times in the G chord?

    Then, again, looking ahead to see the next chord change (in this case there is no change) and again strum 4 times in the G chord? and continue to follow this sequential process through out the song?

    I hope this is not as clear as mud. If you see it that way let me know and I will try a different approach to my questions. I guess it just seems counter intuitive to me. It seems that I should see the (G) at the beginning before “You are my”, but hey, what do I know about this word of tabs and music it is still all Greek to me and I’m an old guy. (-:

    Thanks again, in advance for your assistance and patience.

    Have a great weekend.

    Ron

    • jacobm

      Hi Ron,

      Sorry I haven’t got back to you sooner.

      Yes Travis picking is quite advanced – best to get down your basic strumming and chord changes first.

      Yes there are 4 beats to each chord in the intro, and for the rest of the song.

      “You Are My” is a pickup, or to use the fancy name, anacrusis. This means it precedes the strong Beat 1 of the first bar of the chorus, which lands on “Sunshine”. In this case “You Are My” lasts for 3 beats, and so is sung over the last 3 beats of the intro.

      So you will do one strum on the last G at the end of the intro, before coming in with the words “You Are My” over the last 3 strums. Then follow through the chords as written, with 4 strums on each.

      I hope this is clear. It’s hard to describe in text, so if you’d like to explore further perhaps we could book in a Skype lesson.

      Best wishes,

      Jacob

  5. Shell

    I just stumbled this website and found this thread very helpful. Thank you.
    I too love Elizabeth Mitchell’s version of the song. I am looking forward to diving into your website further.
    I’m from Hollywood, Florida. Covering some miles on here. 🙂

    • jacobm

      Hi Shell,
      Greetings from Bristol. Very glad you’re finding the thread helpful!
      Yes Elizabeth Mitchell does some really lovely covers.
      Thanks for getting in touch 🙂
      Jacob

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