One of the most popular songs for beginning ukulele and guitar players is “You Are My Sunshine” which was first recorded in 1939 and has become the official state song of Louisiana. At the minimum, you need three chords to accompany yourself singing. To spice up the harmony accompaniment, you can add minor, sevenths, major sevenths and even a diminished chord. To spice up the rhythm, apply accent (emphasis) and syncopation in your strumming. Watch different versions of videos of this popular song to get ideas for what you can do.
Easiest version in C major. Three chords: C, F, G7.
You are my [C] sunshine, my only sunshine,
You make me [F] happy when skies are [C] gray.
You’ll never [F] know dear, how much I [C] love you,
Please don’t take my [G7] sunshine a [C] way.
Next easiest version in C major, add C7 and Am.
The other [C] night, dear, as I lay sleeping
[C7] I dreamed I [F] held you in my [C] arms
[C7] But when I [F] woke, dear, I was mis-[C]taken
[Am] And I [C] hung my [G7] head and [C] cried.
To make it more interesting, do a walk up from C to CM7 (also known as Cmaj7 or C major 7) to C7.
You are my [C] sunshine, my only sunshine
You [CM7] make [C7] me [F] happy, when skies are [C] grey
You’ll [CM7] nev [C7] er [F] know, dear, how much I [C] love you
[Am] Please don’t [C] take my [G7] sunshine a-[C]way.
You can even add a C diminished chord, as shown here.
I’ll always [C] love you and [Cdim] make you [C] happy
If [CM7] you [C7] will [F] only say the [C] same
But [CM7] if [C7] you [F] leave me and love [C] another
[Am] You’ll re[C]gret it [G7] all some [C] day.
As for strums, the easiest is to do all down strokes with equal loudness: D- D- D- D-. Next, is to emphasise the second and fourth beats, reggae style, d- D- d- D-. Next is to include upstrokes. Capital letter means emphasise (louder than uncapitalised). D = down stroke. U = upstroke. X means wham or chnk (slap on neck or body).
D- D- D- D-
d- D- d- D-
d- Du d- Du
d- D- d- D- (alternate the first and third beats by plucking with thumb on the G and C strings and strumming the rest of the strings for second and fourth beats)
d- Du -u Du
du Xu du Xu
Here is an interesting video to play along to.
Download different layouts of this song sheet.
Chord names and diagrams above the lyrics (2 page PDF)
Inline chord names (1 page PDF)
Chord names above lyrics (1 page PDF)