Sometimes we take a lot of things for granted. The sun, I think, is one of them. I doubt most of us give it a second thought. It just sits up there and keeps us warm, sometimes. But it does a lot more than that. If it wasn’t sitting up there, it might be a problem.
But one thing it has unwittingly done is be the metaphorical creative force behind some great music. And that is what we are looking at here. Great songs about the sun and sunshine and how they are both used to great effect.
- Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
- You are the Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder
- Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
- Good Day Sunshine – The Beatles
- Walking On Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves
- Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – Elton John
- Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In – 5th Dimension
- Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks
- A Place In The Sun – Stevie Wonder
- The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore – Walker Brothers
- I’ll Follow The Sun – The Beatles
- Masters Of The Figurative
- Looking for More Memorable Songs?
- Songs About the Sun and Sunshine – Final Thoughts
No better place to start than with these guys. Written on a day that George could “take no more” of the Beatles in-fighting. He went off and left them to it and wrote this. Taken from their Abbey Road album and one of the great songs about the sun. It is also one of the most-streamed Beatles songs on Spotify.
Given his mood, it is strange it is so full of positive images. But it is probably all figurative. He talks about the end of a “long, lonely winter.” Was that a reference to the icy relationship the four had that he knew was coming to an end?
He then talks about the spring that is coming. Was that his release and his freedom to do what he wanted and not live in anyone’s shadow anymore? Because it was only in the last few years, he was allowed to put his compositions on albums. Whatever, a great song in every way.
Another great song by an outstanding songwriter and performer. This from 1972 was written for his then-wife Syreeta, who he had married a few years earlier. They were divorced a couple of years later.
Syreeta claimed she didn’t like living in the shadow of one of the great artists of the time. What on earth did she expect when she married him? She was good, but he was something else. Nevertheless, a memorable sunshine song with a great sentiment.
Another song about sunshine that needs no introduction. Bill Withers was working in a factory making parts for Boeing airplanes when he wrote and recorded this. He didn’t stay for long after.
It was initially a B-side when it came out in 1971. The constant “I know” was a filler as he didn’t have the lyrics finished. The producer liked it and left it in.
It kicked off a career that brought him three gold discs, this being one. A great song talking about sunshine with a relaxed, almost bluesy feel to it.
Taken from Revolver, this is a song that has an interesting ‘feel’ to it. That was mainly due to Sir George Martin’s piano addition giving it almost a musical hall sound. Although, in many ways, it was indicative of where the Beatles were at the time.
It is lighthearted and almost a sing-along song. In some ways representative of some of what McCartney produced after the band broke up.
A Love Song
Someone noted that it is the only love song on what was otherwise a rather critical album. Not true; there were five love songs, including this. Perhaps he hadn’t heard “Here, There and Everywhere” or “For No One.” But this song was different, rather playful.
It doesn’t reduce the strength of the album, as some have said. If anything, it adds to it with its diversity showing they could do anything by this time. Rhythm and key changes are critical to the finished work and make it an interesting work to study.
Another great sunshine song from this UK band. But one that eventually received a lot of negativity. It is a song about happiness and joy. It was released in 1983 and had worldwide success.
But then a hurricane that someone named Katrina devastated America’s Gulf Coast in 2005. That was 22 years later, but some people chose to see some extraneous link.
Thankfully, there are enough intelligent people around to ensure this song still grosses a lot of money in annual airplay. Great song, and as I said, full of hope and joy. Easily one of the best songs about the sun and sunshine.
Elton John has been through some tough times in his life, and Bernie Taupin was always able to capture his mood perfectly. This is one of those moments. Originally recorded in 1974 for his Caribou album, it was recorded in an atmosphere of tension.
Elton didn’t like his vocals. The backing singers, which included members of the Beach Boys, couldn’t get it right. Gus Dudgeon was having trouble making the mix sound as they wanted it.
Elton went off on tour and left them to it, and it was rather thrown together. Singers were changed, and other things were added. Not like the Righteous Brothers sound that Bernie could hear in his head and how he thought it should sound. Never mind, it is a great song that did well. And it sounds good to me.
Fifth Dimension was a reasonably well-known singing group until this came out. They had previously had a big hit with “Up, Up, and Away” but they were considered very mainstream.
Then overnight, thanks to this effort, they became something else. This is an anthem if ever there was one. It was written, of course, for “Hair” and became an anti-US government rallying call for the “long-haired brigade,” bless ‘em.
It is still sometimes heard where there is a rallying call for something and was an unforgettable part of the stage show, including “those” scenes. But the use of sunshine to intimate hope is once again being used very effectively.
The Kinks, were they serious? One never knew; they were the inventors of “hard rock” with their “You Really Got Me” single. But they made some fun stuff as well. Just when you thought you knew them, Ray Davies came up with wonderful songs like “Waterloo Sunset” and “Days.”
This song has two sides. It is about a man “lazing on a sunny afternoon.” Nice thought. But the reason is the taxman has taken everything away from him. The song is buried in mystery and is a bit of a poke at people who over-stretch themselves financially.
He made the central figure a bit of a scoundrel to add a bit of seriousness to it. But it still has that little feeling of fun and sunny afternoons about it.
Stevie Wonder was just 16 when this was released in 1966. Just in between being “Little” Stevie Wonder to the bigger version. It was his first song that contained any social comment.
The “place” he was referring to wasn’t necessarily “in the sun.” It was a figurative description of anywhere that is a better place than where you are. A place where you can be comfortable and at ease.
This is a song that addresses some of the social, cultural, and racial problems that were prevalent in America at the time. In many ways, they still are. He used the sun as a metaphor for the hope that many shared for a better future.
I must admit to always feeling a bit sorry for the Walker Brothers. They arrived on the UK pop music scene in 1966. All good looks, hairdos, and skinny jeans. But somehow, it just didn’t look right. Maybe someone thought we needed a replacement for the Everley’s? They looked innocent and lost and performed a bit like it.
They could sing, of that there was no doubt. And in my view, their voices were a lot better than the records they made, even though this one was a good effort and a big hit.
It was a cover of a song that Frankie Valli had recorded and failed with. The Walkers added some nice harmonies, and there was a good arrangement. Again a figurative interpretation of the lack of sun to denote loneliness. We later found out that many a true word was enclosed in this song for them.
A classic Beatles tune that comes from the album Beatles For Sale. It was recorded in about October, and the album came out in December. It was a Paul McCartney song that he had written in the front room of his house years before in Liverpool in 1959.
They changed a few things and added some nice vocal harmonies. Ringo played a wooden packing case instead of his kit. At the time, they were becoming more tuneful and moving gradually away from their rock n roll ways. This is a good example.
The song was dragged out because they didn’t have enough good material for the album. Good job, or we would be missing a lovely little track with a sad side. The song is about a breakup, but he is not going to dwell on it, and he is going to “follow the sun.”
Masters Of The Figurative
The Beatles loved to use the sun or sunshine as a description or a figure of speech in their songwriting. John and Paul together and as individuals used it many times. Here are just a few examples:
- “Now The Sun Turns Out Its Light” (Good Night).
- “Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns” (Across The Universe).
- “Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun” (I am The Walrus).
- “Everybody Saw The Sun Shine” (I’ve Got A Feeling).
- “The Girl With the Sun in Her Eyes and She’s Gone” (Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds).
- “The Sun is up the Sky is Blue” (Dear Prudence)
The sun has played a big part in popular music, and so it should. It is representative of good, of hope, and offers a promise of something better. But, of course, it isn’t just modern-day composers that use its possibilities. The masters also recognized its value:
- Haydn- String Quartet no. 78 “Sunrise”.
- Vivaldi- The Four Seasons.
Looking for More Memorable Songs?
We can help with that. Check out our informative articles on the Best Sing-Along Songs, the Best Songs About Clouds, the Best Songs About Friendship, Funny Songs to Sing with Kids, and The 20 Best Jazz Albums of All Time for more amazing tunes you may not know.
And you’ll need to listen to these tracks. So, take a look at our in-depth reviews of the Best Bluetooth Headphones Under $100, the Best Headphones with Volume Control, the Best Headphones for Music, the Best Noise Isolating Earbuds, and the Best Sound Quality Earbuds you can buy in 2022.
Songs About the Sun and Sunshine – Final Thoughts
They have always had the ability to offer something new. Offer hope, ease away bad feelings and give us, if only figuratively, the promise of a new day.
So, until next time, let the music play.