The Top Ten Sun Songs

What can be said about the sun? Well, for one thing, it's hot. Really hot. As Tom Glazer once sang, "The sun is a mass of incandescent gas/A gigantic nuclear furnace/Where hydrogen is built into helium/At a temperature of millions of degrees." Nicely put, especially coming from the guy who wrote "On Top Of Spaghetti".

But what else do we know? For one thing, without the sun, we, along with all other life on earth, wouldn't survive. And, as the old saying goes, there's nothing new under it...except, perhaps, for this list! There are many great tunes about sunshine, sunlight and general sunny weather. It's difficult to leave some of my own personal favorites out.

As always the songs are organized by how well each has done on the various charts. Click on each song title to learn more. I'll say it again: If you don't see your favorite sun song, be sure to leave a comment. Who knows, your submission could be the next entry!

Let's start at the bottom (but certainly not least) and work our way up to the #1 spot.

The Warmth Of The Sun 

A classic ballad from the Beach Boys. It was released as the B-side of "Dance, Dance, Dance", which charted at #8 (US) and #24 (UK). It was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. What more can be said?

What good is the dawn that grows into day,
The sunset at night, or living this way
For I have the warmth of the sun
Within me at night

9. Walking On Sunshine

This was the biggest hit for Katrina and the Waves. It was originally written by Kimberley Rew as a ballad. Good thing it didn't stay that way! It's like a long-lost Motown record. It reached #9 (US) and #8 (UK). Hey, since this was released in 1985, can we consider "Walking On Sunshine" an oldie?

I'm walking on sunshine, whoa-oh
I'm walking on sunshine, whoa-oh
I'm walking on sunshine, whoa-oh
And don't it feel good

California Sun

This was originally recorded by Joe Jones, who had a hit with "You Talk Too Much". (Hey, we should do a list of the Top Ten Talking Songs...) The most successful recording was by the Illinois-based Rivieras. Their version reached #5 in the US.

Well, I'm goin' out west where I belong
Where the days are short and the nights are long
Where they walk and I'll walk, they twist and I'll twist
They shimmy and I'll shimmy, they fly and I'll fly
Well, they're out there a-havin' fun
In that warm California sun

7. Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying

The second-most successful group from Liverpool was Gerry (Marsden) and the Pacemakers. It was produced and arranged by Beatles producer George Martin, and it shows. It reached #4 in the US and #6 in the UK. It's definitely one of the highest-of-caliber 1960s ballads. It was even later covered by Paul McCartney.

Don't let the sun catch you crying
The night's the time for all your tears
Your heart may be broken tonight
But tomorrow in the morning light
Don't let the sun catch you crying

Ain't No Sunshine

Bill Withers' first hit. Before this, he had been working in a factory making airplane parts. He was introduced to Booker T. Jones, who had produced records for Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. The rest is history. "I know, I know, I know, I know, I know..." It reached #3 in the US, #2 on the US Adult Contemporary chart, and was a top 40 hit in the UK.

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
It's not warm when she's away
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
And she's always gone too long
Any time she goes away

5. Sunny

In 1999 BMI ranked this Bobby Hebb tune at #25 on their list of the Top 100 Songs Of The Century in terms of radio play. And rightly so: I've often played this song over and over again. It reached #2 (US), #3 (US R&B) and #12 (UK). Like "The Warmth Of The Sun", this is said to have been inspired in part by the death of JFK.

Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain
Sunny, you smiled at me and really eased the pain
The dark days are gone and the bright days are here
My sunny one shines so sincere
Sunny, one so true, I love you

4. Waterloo Sunset

Many assume the Kinks were a hard rock group. This #2 UK hit, written and sung by Ray Davies, is proof they primarily wrote pretty pop. A 2004 London FM radio poll called it the Greatest Song About London, Time Out magazine named it the "Anthem of London", and it ranked at #42 Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. 

Dirty old river, must you keep rolling
Flowing into the night
People so busy make me feel dizzy
Taxi lights shine so bright
But I don't need no friends
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset

I am in paradise

Sunshine On My Shoulders

One of John Denver's signature songs. Though this was originally released in 1971, it was released as a single in December 1973 after being used as the theme of the NBC TV movie Sunshine. It became a big hit in 1974, reaching #1 in the US. In my opinion, this is one of the prettiest sun-themed songs on this list.

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry

Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

2. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life

A great ballad. I'm sure we can each think of someone, somewhere, who is the sunshine in our life. And to think that Stevie Wonder wrote, sang and self-produced this when he was only 22 years old. Rolling Stone ranked the song #281 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It reached #1 in the US and #7 in the UK.

You are the sunshine of my life

That's why I'll always be around
You are the apple of my eye

Forever you'll stay in my heart

And, hey, kids, what time is it? Time to reveal the numero uno (that means number one, of course) song on our list. Yes, you may be surprised that this is the one that gets a place in the sun here. The top song is...!

1. Seasons In The Sun

Terry Jacks may be considered a one-hit-wonder, but that's not the whole story. He and his wife Susan Pesklevits had success as the Poppy Family, whose hit, "Which Way You Goin' Billy?" was sung by Susan and written by Jacks. "Seasons In The Sun" was a #1 hit for three weeks in the US, and also topped the charts in the UK and Canada. It sold over 14 million copies worldwide. It later became a #1 hit for the UK group Westlife in 1999.

We had joy, we had fun,
We had seasons in the sun
But the hills that we climbed

Were just seasons out of time

Do you agree with this list? Have any suggestions for honorable mentions? I can think of a few myself, but I want you to decide.

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1 comment:

  1. Neat list, some interesting songs I hadn't heard before, but it's missing some great ones...

    "Here Comes The Sun" by The Beatles is the best sun song ever. Period.
    Their "I'll Follow The Sun" also deserves to be on here.
    "Cold Day In The Sun" (Foo Fighters) is another great sun-related song.
    And what about the old classic "You Are My Sunshine"?


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