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The Meaning Behind The Song: Come to the Sunshine by Van Dyke Parks

The Meaning Behind The Song: Come to the Sunshine by Van Dyke Parks

As a Music Technician, I have had the privilege of exploring various songs and digging deeper into their meanings. One song that has always held a special place in my heart is “Come to the Sunshine” by Van Dyke Parks. I first heard this song on a lazy summer afternoon, and it immediately resonated with me.

When I stumbled upon this song at a friend’s house, I was captivated by its infectious melody and upbeat vibe. However, as I delved into the lyrics, I discovered a deeper story hidden beneath the cheerful exterior.

The Sunshine Metaphor

The chorus of the song, “Come to the sunshine, hang your ups and down you comes to the sunshine,” sets the tone for the overall meaning. It talks about finding solace and comfort in the sunshine, metaphorically representing a state of happiness and contentment.

In the verses, Van Dyke Parks describes the pleasant weather and sailing off Carolina’s shore. He uses imagery of cotton threads keeping him cool, emphasizing the idea of finding peace and tranquility. However, he acknowledges his own foolishness in hoping for someone to be his, possibly referencing unrequited love or the insecurities that come with it.

A Longing for Connection

The second verse continues the theme of longing for connection and reveals the protagonist’s deep feelings for someone. Van Dyke Parks confesses that he thinks a lot about this person, but doubts whether they think about him in the same way. He expresses a desire for laughter and togetherness, hoping to act on their behalf and remain forever united.

The middle 8 section deviates slightly from the theme of love and highlights the protagonist’s indifference towards societal conventions. He mentions the White Swan Serenade, Dunn and Bradstreet, Vanity Fair, and the fascination with who wears what and who’s been where. However, he asserts that all these things do not matter unless they can share them with the person he longs for.

A Journey Together

The final verse of the song adds a sense of mystery and adventure. Van Dyke Parks reveals that he has missed this person since he went down to Port-au-Prince, which can be seen as a metaphorical journey or a physical separation. He describes the way this person rubs the tinsel off his independence day, hinting at their influence on his life and the desire to sail together.

The repetition of the chorus throughout the song emphasizes the yearning for the person to come to the sunshine, to embrace happiness and love. It highlights the idea that true contentment lies in shared experiences and genuine connections.

Legacy and Influence

“Come to the Sunshine” was released as the A-side of a single in 1966 and gained popularity quickly. Harper’s Bizare covered the song on June 9th, 1967, and their version reached #35 on US charts. The song’s enduring appeal can be attributed to its timeless lyrics and memorable melody.

As a listener, I have always admired Van Dyke Parks’ ability to convey complex emotions through his music. “Come to the Sunshine” is a perfect example of how a seemingly upbeat song can hold a deeper meaning. It serves as a reminder of the universal desire for connection, happiness, and love.

Listening to “Come to the Sunshine” always takes me back to that summer day when I first discovered it. It serves as a constant reminder to embrace the sunshine in my own life and seek meaningful connections with others along the way.


Written By: Van Dyke Parks

Cover By: “Come to the Sunshine” by Harpers Bizarre

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