This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
Sunshine is something I know well as I was born and bred in Australia and this country has a lot of it. I’ll bring you some of it in the form of songs.
I’ll start with the title of the column, Do You Know You Are My Sunshine? I think we know the answer to the question, but THE STATLER BROTHERS ask it anyway.
The Statlers are a guilty pleasure for me. I really like their harmony and interweaving singing. Here they are with the title of the column.
The answer to the previous question is “Yes”. It doesn’t matter, I’m going to play it and I’m going right back to the source, JIMMIE DAVIS.
Jimmie was a singer and songwriter (and twice Governor of Louisiana) and he wrote the song along with Charles Mitchell. His wasn’t the first recording of the song, but I think he deserves to sing it today in spite of politics: You Are My Sunshine.
Ain't No Sunshine would be BILL WITHERS’ most famous song.
That’s probably due to the multiple “I Know”s in the song (26 of them). It wasn’t just this song though, he has had quite a few hits over the years, but it’s Ain't No Sunshine we’re going with today.
I’ve never really known what to think of DONOVAN’s music.
He’s recorded so much rubbish over the years that it’s easy to dismiss him, however, when I listen to the best of his songs, and there are quite a few of them, I’m forced to revise my opinion. So, old flippy-floppy me has chosen Sunshine Superman.
I have no such qualms about TOM RUSH though, as long time readers would already know.
Tom’s a regular visitor to these columns and from his fine album “The Circle Game” we have Sunshine Sunshine.
KATRINA AND THE WAVES is a group with both British and American members.
They evolved from the British band The Waves and the American one, Mama’s Cookin’. After getting together and bit of to-ing and fro-ing with various musicians, our group was born. They perform their best known song, Walking On Sunshine.
Norma, the Assistant Musicologist just walked in and said that this one is the pick of the sunshine songs. Not my first choice, but it’s certainly good enough to be included.
DION DiMucci is best known to most of us as a Doowop and pop singer from the fifties and early sixties.
After that though, he evolved into a rather fine folk/blues singer. He didn’t sell a lot of records in this style but he certainly impressed the critics. From that period he sings Sunshine Lady from the album “King of the New York Streets”.
DOUG SAHM first came to be noticed by the general public as the main man from the rock group The Sir Douglas Quintet (from Texas, in spite of the name).
Afterwards, Doug was a leading light in the resurgence of roots music and also Tex-Mex, combining the music of Texas and Mexico. He was a bit of a prodigy and could play pretty much any instrument he lay his hands on. Alas, he died far too young.
From his album “Groover's Paradise” he performs Beautiful Texas Sunshine.
STEVIE WONDER had the help of Jim Gilstrap and Lani Groves on You Are the Sunshine of My Life.
Indeed, Jim sang the first two lines and Lani the next two. Stevie finally gets to warble along after that. The song made the charts around the world and topped them in several countries.
WILLIE NELSON launches into jazz mode for his sunshine song.
Well, sort of jazz, it’s still Willie, of course, and I’ve always thought of him as essentially a jazz performer working in country music. Anyway, Willie asks us, or someone, to Bring Me Sunshine.