by Madeline Bocaro
© Madeline Bocaro, 2021. No part of the text on this site may be reproduced or re-blogged in whole or in part in any manner without permission of the copyright owner.
Let’s celebrate the Great Ball of Fire!
We have all flown too close to the sun at some point in our lives, like Icarus with his wings of wax, plunging to his death by drowning…
Landscape with The Fall of Icarus, 1590-95 (now allegedly) by Bruegel
(Of course, I am not an art historian. I learned of this painting from Nicholas Roeg’s 1976 film, The Man Who Fell to Earth starring David Bowie. The image appears in an art book, allegorically representing his tragic character, Thomas Jerome Newton’s fall from the sky).
HERE IS A PLAYLIST FOR A SUNNY DAY!
‘Wait till the sun shines Nelly’ is a popular tune written in 1905 by Harry Von Tilzer and Andrew B. Sterling. It was a favorite for harmonizing by barbershop quartets. The song first charted at No. 1 in 1906. The song was also a number one hit for Byron G. Harlan, and has been covered endlessly…
Buddy Holly, 1959: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_2sZTgYIKo
Bing Crosby, 1941: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmff8KksweY
My favorite version of the standard ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ (written in 1930) is by Keely Smith. It has also been performed and recorded by Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holliday, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and many more.
‘Great Balls of Fire’ by Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the first great rock n’ roll songs ever released. It was recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis and released in 1957. This song ignited the eternal flame of rock n’ roll.
‘Sunny’ was a popular hit written and sung by Bobby Hebb in 1966. Due to this success, Hebb toured with The Beatles that same year. The whole production on this, especially the bass sound is wonderful. You can actually sing Sly Stone’s incredible song ‘If You Want Me to Stay’ (Fresh, 1973) right along with this instrumentation. (Sly’s unique song has no chorus nor bridge).
One year prior to Hebb’s recording, ‘Sunny’ was released by Japanese singer Mieko Hirota (the Rosemary Clooney of Japan) on her album Miko In New York. Her version is more of a Bossa-nova style.
Sunny – Thank you for the smile upon your face
Sunny – Thank you for the gleam that shows its grace
You’re my spark of nature’s fire
You’re my sweet complete desire
Sunny one so true, yes, I love you
Listen – Bobby Hebb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtaUWSdgdHE
Listen – Mieko Hirota: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtuBhv5yAxk
Listen – Sly Stone ‘If You Want Me to Stay’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZFabOuF4Ps
Watch – Sly on Soul Train: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh2DSw9KjyY
SUNRISE / SUNSET
An appropriate song for today is ‘The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise’ – a gorgeous tune written 1918 and first recorded in 1921. It has been covered by hundreds of artists, including Les Paul and Mary Ford in 1951, employing the inimitable multitracking style, which Les invented.
Songwriters: Ernest Seitz / Eugene Lockhart / Harry Alford
‘The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise’ lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Dear one the world is waiting for the sunrise
Ev’ry rose is covered with dew
And while the world is waiting for the sunrise
In my heart is calling you…
‘Sunrise, Sunset’ is a song from the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof. It’s sung by parents at their daughter’s wedding, who can’t believe how quickly the time has passed. Many singers have recorded this tune, including Bing Crosby, Vera Lynn, Perry Como, and Anthony Newley.
‘Who Loves the Sun’ was a beautiful single released in 1971 from the third album by The Velvet Underground, Loaded (released in 1970). Vocals are by Doug Yule (who disdains the sun because of a broken heart), while Lou Reed took over on the album’s more memorable songs, “Rock N’ Roll’ and ‘Sweet Jane.’
‘Ride into the Sun’ on Lou Reed’s first solo album originated as a Velvet Underground song (later released on Loaded X6). Lou also has a song called ‘Fly Into the Sun’ on his 1984 album New Sensations.
Listen – Fly Into the Sun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StdD1z6Qh0M&list=RDStdD1z6Qh0M&start_radio=1
‘Here Comes the Sun’ written by George Harrison is one of the most popular Beatles tunes ever. It’s on Abbey Road, their last album.
Listen – (A beautiful, longer Take 9): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIt8GN2sr4I
‘Sun King’ with its nonsensical chorus is a Spanish style song, also on Abbey Road. This exemplifies the beautiful harmonies of the guys.
Melanie’s beautiful song ‘Baby Day’ is on her 1971 album Gather Me. The hits from this record were ‘Brand New Key’ and ‘Ring the Living Bell.’ They are both amazing, but this song about how we take the sunrise for granted is timeless!
We were meant to see the beginning of the day
I believe it was planned to lift us this way
Take you an apple and take you a song
And watch a baby day be born
Bill Withers recorded ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ in 1971. It appears on his album Just As I Am, and was also his breakthrough hit single.
Aside from ‘You Are the Sunshine of my Life,’ ‘Blame it on the Sun’ is from the Stevie Wonder album Talking Book (1972). I love the fact that this album had embossed braille lettering on the cover. Although Stevie was only twenty-two at the time, it was his fifteenth album. He had released the incredible Music of my Mind earlier that year. Stevie plays Moog bass and T.O.N.T.O. synthesizer on this track. The synth inspired the name of British-American duo Tonto’s Expanding Headband who released two albums in the 70s and worked with Stevie.
‘Waiting for the Sunrise‘ is an upbeat, innocent tune on Yoko Ono’s 1973 double album Approximately Infinite Universe. The song was covered by Death Cab For Cutie on the 2022 album titled Ocean Child, with various artists covering Yoko’s songs.
Listen – Death Cab For Cutie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2w24snUDhPA
Elton John’s song ‘Don’t Let the Sun go Down On Me’ is on his 1974 album Caribou – the album with the weirdest title ever!
The beautifully melodic and beloved song ‘Waterloo Sunset’ was composed by Ray Davies for The Kinks’ 1967 album Something Else. The lonely singer speaks in a pure voice about noticing a couple of lovers daily from his window. They meet under an umbrella at dreary rainy Waterloo Station. The song evokes a colorless painting, capturing the true essence of England. Friends are forsaken as the much-preferred company of the spectacular Waterloo sunset turns the bleary atmosphere into paradise.
This gorgeous tune was the first Kinks song released in stereo, sounding wonderful with its tape-delay echo effects. Davies says that the song was originally written for Liverpool as he was so enamored by the Merseybeat sound which originated there. Cover versions include one by David Bowie (Reality, 2003) and a fantastic, rousing rendition by Def Leppard on their 2003 album YEAH!
The Kinks ‘Waterloo Sunset’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_MqfF0WBsU
Def Leppard ‘Waterloo Sunset’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WnuRmnhWr4
The Fifth Dimension had a huge hit, which spent six weeks at No. 1 in 1969. Their medley, ‘Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In’ was written for the smash-hit 1967 musical Hair. Session members of The Wrecking Crew performed on the song. The lyrics have been proven to be astronomically incorrect, however, the uplifting gospel second-half of the song is undeniably uplifting.
David Bowie wrote a 7+ minutes song called ‘Memory of a Free Festival (Part 1 & 2) about the very first free festival in the UK, put on by the Beckenham Arts Lab in August 16, 1969. This was near the time of the release of Bowie’s first hit single ‘Space Oddity.’ It was a single, and appeared on Bowie’s second (self-titled) album, which later was re-released in 1972 and known as the Space Oddity album.
A really cool dance track, ‘Sun Machine’ by Dario uses the lengthy chorus of Bowie’s vocal track…
The sun machine is coming down
And we’re gonna have a party
Listen – ‘Memory of a Free Festival’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVF8V4VKSX8
Listen – ‘Sun Machine’ by Dario: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcDnqq7Kq1Y
The beautiful ‘Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying’ is sung by Ronnie Spector on her 2016 album of cover songs, English Heart, accompanied by acoustic guitar and strings. This was Ronnie’s fifth solo album. The song was written by Gerry and Freddie Mardsen with other members of Gerry and the Pacemakers and recorded by them in 1964. The Pacemakers also performed their song on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Listen – Ronnie Spector: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=750p4pSZzuM
Listen – Gerry and the Pacemakers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlaErrWDSuc
The Beatles’ tune ‘I’ll Follow the Sun’ (from their fourth album Beatles for Sale, released in 1964) is also acoustically covered by Ronnie on English Heart. This is gorgeous!
Listen – The Beatles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28d_A_NuJ7A
Listen – Ronnie Spector: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALo7lIV-j0s
T. Rex released ‘Mambo Sun’ on their classic album Electric Warrior in 1972. It’s a perfect example of Marc Bolan’s phantasmagorical lyrics which take us to other worlds…
Beneath the mambo sun
I got to be the one with you
My life’s a shadowless horse
If I can’t get across to you
In the alligator rain
My heart’s all pain for you
‘Holidays in the Sun’ by The Sex Pistols begins with the sound of stomping jackboots and a glorious guitar intro, exemplifying all the band’s songs. I hope they enjoyed their German holidays at Belsen, and at the Berlin wall. They didn’t send me a postcard. This is on their brilliant (and only) album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols released in 1977.
I dared to ask for sunshine, and I got World War three
I’m looking over the wall and they’re looking at me!
The Ramones covered The Rivieras’ surf song ‘California Sun’ on their second album, Leave Home released in 1977, just a few months after their debut album. The Rivieras’ 1964 album was called Let’s Have a Party.
Listen – The Ramones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-WjrY-zY50
Listen – The Rivieras: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF1tyjvH9is
Blondie’s 1977 debut included ‘In the Sun.’ Debbie Harry shouts, “Surf’s up!” and her glorious voice delivers this beach tune in punk fashion.
‘Ride into the Sun’ by Def Leppard was originally on The Def Leppard EP recorded in 1978 and released in 1979, It was re-recorded on a compilation album called Retro Active, released in 1993 comprising B-sides and unreleased songs.
‘Sunglasses After Dark’ appears on The Cramps’ debut album, Songs the Lord Taught Us released in 1980. This was an important live song for the band for years, prior to the album’s release. Lux Interior would throw several pair of plastic goggles into the audience at the start of this tune (I still have mine)! I would always get so excited upon the screeching opening of this song during their live gigs, when there were sometimes only ten of us in the audience, with Lux jumping off the stage and singing amongst us!!
‘Total Eclipse‘ was written by Krisitan Hoffman for Klaus Nomi who sang it in 1981. It was also released as a single in 1982. Klaus performed the song live in the movie URGH! A Music War. This is an upbeat song with gloomy lyrics about the sun being eclipsed by nuclear holocaust.
Big shots argue about what they’ve got
making the planet so hot, hot as a holocaust.
Blow up, everything’s gonna go up
even if you don’t show up in your Chemise Lacoste.
Total eclipse, it’s a total eclipse,
it’s a total eclipse of the sun.
Can’t come to grips with the total eclipse
Just a slip of the lips and you’re done.
Fall out, nobody left to crawl out
If someone calls, we’re all out, turning in to French fries
Last dance, let the entire cast dance, do the dismembered blast dance
as we get atomized!
MY STORY about Klaus Nomi: https://madelinex.com/2017/12/02/klaus/
The trippy, spacey, funky song ‘The Sun is Down’ is on Yoko Ono’s 2009 album ‘Between My Head and the Sky’ featuring Plastic Ono Band. The song is mixed by Cornelius. She wrote ‘The Sun is Down’ on her 76th birthday. Scissor Sisters performed the song live at Yoko’s birthday concert in February 2010.
My New Book: In Your Mind – The Infinite Universe of Yoko Ono
A complete look at Yoko Ono’s life, art, films and music in astounding detail.
Includes the love story of John and Yoko, and all the work they did together.
Visit the website for reviews and more info:
‘Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)’ is a song on an EP by the same name by They Might Be Giants. This was released in 1993. It was also released as a 7-inch single. This is an upbeat cover of a song from a 1959 album titled Space Songs.
‘Sunshine Superman’ by Donovan is a bossa-nova track on his album of the same name, released in 1966 – only in the USA. This was his third album, which also included ‘Season of the Witch.’
‘Good Day Sunshine’ is a McCartney penned song on Revolver by The Beatles, which is being celebrated with a huge re-release in 2022. (I don’t think The Rolling Stones ever sang about the sun – although they performed Jimmy Reed’s blues, ‘’The Sun is Shining’ live three times, including at their infamous Altamont gig).
The Ronettes recorded ‘I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine’ in 1966. It was not released until the mid-1970s. The song, written by Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry and Phil Spector is sadly beautiful song with a welling up of strings and Ronnie’s gorgous voice.
‘Sunshine of Your Love’ was a massive hit for Cream in America in 1968, and was a highlight of their live gigs. It appears on their second album Disraeli Gears.
Jonathan Edwards from Minnesota had a hit with the acoustic ‘Sunshine’ in 1971. It’s from Edwards’ self-titled debut album. He is not in a good mood, and wants the sunshine to go away.
The sickeningly sweet Sunshine Day’ was featured on a 1973 episode of The Brady Bunch tv show, in which the kids appear on a talent show. Little Bobby gets all R&B on the choruses.
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