Got an email from Alexis Kochan of Paris to Kyiv this morning.
She's just back from France and Poland and was finally able to answer a question that Irena Bell, host of Ottawa's Ukrainian radio program had put out in cyberspace. She wondered if "You Are My Sunshine" was a Ukrainian song, since there are several Ukrainian versions floating around. I figured if anyone would know, Alexis would ... I'd heard the knock-your-socks-off rendition she did with the Borsch Bros. back in 1992 at the PNE's Ukrainian Showcase Pavilion.
Here's what Alexis said:
I can't be absolutely sure but I would say that 'You are my Sunshine' is not a Ukrainian song. I think that Mickey and Bunny translated it from the English in the '60s (as they did with other tunes like 'This Land is Our Land') and the Marenychi ripped it off from Mickey and Bunny (interesting twist if it's true). Or they may have heard a demo that I did with my musicians from an early Paris To Kyiv CD - it would be the version you heard, Paulette. Someone should do a doctoral dissertation on this...
A doctoral dissertation may not be too far off. The Centre for Ukrainian Canadian Studies at the University of Manitoba has already put together a free online course on Ukrainian folklore that explains why this particular song and others like it lend themselves to translation into Ukrainian.
Oh and by the way, Alexis recorded that boffo version of You Are My Sunshine on a demo CD a while back. She promised to send me a copy. Soon as she does I'll play it on my program. Then you'll understand what the fuss is about!