“Southern Nights” Becomes Official State Cultural Anthem
Four weeks after receiving final legislative approval, the bill making Allen Toussaint's song "Southern Nights" Louisiana's cultural anthem is now law.
Governor John Bel Edwards signed House Bill 351, authored by Rep. Vincent Pierre (D-Lafayette) into law on Tuesday. It is now Act 451 of the 2021 Louisiana Legislative Session.
The bill received overwhelming support during the legislative session. Only one lawmaker, Rep. Blake Miguez (R-New Iberia), voted against it.
According to the story Toussaint tells in live versions of the song recorded in the years leading up to his 2015 death, the lyrics in "Southern Nights" are inspired by the trips from New Orleans to the country to visit his father's extended family.
The bill also removes recognition of one of the state's official songs. "Give Me Louisiana," which was declared the state song in 1970, lost its status under this bill. That provision, proposed by Rep. Tanner Magee (R-Houma), was added during House floor debate. That leaves "You Are My Sunshine," a song associated with former governor Jimmie Davis, as Louisiana's only official state song. The state legislature adopted the song as such in 1977. "Louisiana My Home Sweet Home" remains Louisiana's official state march. "The Gifts of Earth" remains Louisiana's official environmental storm.
Toussaint wrote "Southern Nights" wrote and recorded the song in 1975 and included it on an album of the same title. One year later, country music superstar Glenn Campbell covered the tune, taking it to number-one on the Billboard pop, country, and adult contemporary charts. Campbell's version received a gold record and was named the Country Music Association's Song of the Year in 1977. Campbell recorded his version because he said the lyrics reminded him of his upbringing in Arkansas.
To see our previous coverage on this story, click the links below:
"Southern Nights" Bill Heads to Governor's Desk
"Southern Nights" Bill Heads To Full Senate
“Southern Nights” Bill Gets Overwhelming Support In House
Audio: Terrance Simien Discusses "Southern Nights" Bill
Lafayette Rep. Proposes “Southern Nights” As State Cultural Anthem