On August 1, Act No. 471 will become effective which will designate an Official State Cultural Song for Louisiana. The Act will also remove one of two Official State Songs.
Governor John Bel Edwards signed the Act on Tuesday, June 29, which designated the song “Southern Nights” by Allen Toussaint as the Official State Cultural Song. Toussaint, a New Orleans native, wrote the song about visiting with his relatives in Louisiana. He released the song on his 1975 album of the same name.
Two years later, Glen Campbell was visiting songwriter Jimmy Webb, who had written two of Campbell’s biggest hits, “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” Webb and Campbell were listening to the Allen Toussaint album. When “Southern Nights” began playing, Campbell was mesmerized. He said it reminded him of his rural childhood in Arkansas. Campbell asked Webb if he could have the Allen Toussaint record, and Webb agreed to let him take it. Four weeks later, Campbell’s version of “Southern Nights” was climbing the charts. Campbell never returned Webb’s record.
Toussaint said about Campbell’s version of the song, “I first heard it on the radio and I was delighted. It was so good to hear it like that because I just hadn’t imagined that someone would listen closely enough to it to want to cover such a thing.” Campbell’s version of Toussaint’s song went all the way to No. 1 on three separate charts. (Listen to both versions below.)
On August 1, 2021, Act No. 471 will also remove one of two Official State Songs, Doralice Fontane’s song entitled “Give Me Louisiana.” Fontane’s song became an official state song on July 9, 1970. During her lifetime, state legislators attempted to remove the song as an Official State Song but relented upon Fontane’s insistence that it remain. She died in 1981. (Listen to it below)
The single remaining Official State Song is “You Are My Sunshine” by Louisiana’s Singing Governor, Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell. Jimmy Davis served as Louisiana’s governor from 1944 to 1948 and again from 1960–1964. (Listen to it below)
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