Sunshine on My Shoulders

Today, I am sharing a song of pure comfort after a week that has been tough on many in my circle.

Several loved ones have been carrying heavy burdens, often with no sign of when these might be lifted or with no solution in sight. My heart has also been heavy at learning a friend and carpenter, who did some lovingly skillful work that beautified Sweety’s and my home a few years ago, died by suicide this week.

There’s a lot of loss and sadness compounding in the world. And each day, fears about unrelenting increases in COVID-19 cases, delays in shipment of the miraculously-created vaccine, the rise of virus variants and questions about the vaccine’s efficacy on them each add to the collective anxiety. It’s a lot.

And, as if that weren’t enough, there’s the ongoing scourge of the Internet. Don’t get me wrong; I love that so much information, music, knowledge, wisdom, beauty and connection is immediately available through this “sacred technology” (as one of my dear Colorado friends calls computer devices). It enables me to explore songs and their creators and share them with you as if we were sitting together.

But the dark side of the world wide web is so very compromising to society, especially in this time of global vulnerability. Nowhere is this more evident than in social media: sure, there is much good there, but the unbridled ability to publish anything under the banner of free speech is amassing so much negativity, hate and aggression; behaviour often modelled and fuelled by those we elect as our leaders. I often wonder if or how we could ever get back to a more humble existence now that we’ve advanced so far, well, technologically anyway.

Against this backdrop of grief, fear and hostility, there is the living and life-giving gift of music from people like John Denver (1943-1997). Even when I was in my youth, hearing songs like “Country Boy” at high school dances, Denver always represented qualities of wholesomeness, kindness and humility before I truly understood what those were. In his short time on the earth, Denver was a singer-songwriter, actor, record producer, social activist, and humanitarian. He made 33 albums and acted in film and TV, advocated for the environment and space exploration, and against censorship in music. America’s Colorado state named him its poet laureate and honoured his song, “Rocky Mountain High.”

The world needs more people like John Denver. More than 20 years after his death, he is still at work, bringing hope and healing, and laying sunshine on the shoulders of the living world and all in it.

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

If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you a day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way

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

If I had a tale that I could tell you
I’d tell a tale sure to make you smile
If I had a wish that I could wish for you
I’d make a wish for sunshine all the while

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

Sunshine almost all the time makes me high
Sunshine almost always

(“Sunshine on My Shoulders,” by John Denver, Dick Kniss, Mike Taylor.
Lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com)

Denver released “Sunshine on my Shoulders” on his 1971 album, Poems, Prayers and Promises and reissued it as a single in 1973. It became a Billboard hit in 1974.

As we continue to be weighed down by challenges of our time, which erode our feelings of security, peace and wholeness, let us not be brought down by each other. May we lift up each other and shine our light, deep into the dark recesses of the world (real and cyber), seeking to promote togetherness, respect, justice, compassion and love.

Otherwise, darkness will overcome.

And we won’t survive without light.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from John Denver’s official YouTube/VEVO channel:

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