19 Of The Best Songs About The Sun And Sunshine

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

The sun is a big deal. From school, we are taught that the sun’s rays provide the light plants use to photosynthesize. It also provides warmth and illumination for survival.

No wonder sun symbolizes life, light, positivity, optimism, energy, and clarity. After the rain, the sun brings hope and a brighter outlook for the day.

What better metaphor to use in music to symbolize the feeling of love, a positive change, or even mystery? Keep reading as we turn our eyes up to 19 of the best songs about the sun.

If you like this article, you should check out our list of songs about weather here.

1. “Here Comes The Sun” By The Beatles

Our first song with “sun” in the title is perhaps one of the most famous and mood-lightening songs about the sun. “Here Comes the Sun” is from The Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road.

Despite the very simple lyrics, “Here Comes the Sun” is a song of celebration after the long, cold winter months. As we all know, most people would rather stay at home to keep warm. But winter is over, ice is melting, and the sun is out again.

On the other hand, the sun in the song could be a metaphor for rising out of challenges. When we go through difficult times, our life is dark. But once we’re past that, everything is bright again. Like the sun has come out to chase the dark away.

2. “House Of The Rising Sun” By The Animals

It is unclear where or how the traditional folk song “House of the Rising Sun” originated. What’s known is that a lot of versions came up as early as 1905. However, it is The Animals‘ version in 1964 that is the most successful.

“House of the Rising Sun” talks about a particular house in New Orleans that is “the ruin of many a poor boy.” That’s because it’s a gambling den. Once you’re hooked, it’s difficult to get out.

That’s why the singer warns parents not to let their children do the same. Otherwise, they’re going to live in misery.

3. “You Are My Sunshine” By Johnny Cash

This particularly cloudy version of “You Are My Sunshine” was included in Johnny Cash‘s Unearthed. This is a box set released two months after his death in 2003.

This song has been sung by parents as a lullaby or a sweet song to show their affection for their children. And many parents only have to sing the chorus part, which has a positive message.

But the rest of the lyrics are not as sunny as they seem. Instead, they describe a painful breakup between the singer and his lover, who had been his sunshine. It pains him that she has found another man to love. And by doing so, she has taken his sunshine away.

4. “Walking On Sunshine” By Katrina And The Waves

Being in love brings such a joyous feeling. It’s like you’re “Walking On Sunshine,” as Katrina and the Waves point out in this 1985 song.

“Walking on Sunshine” is easily an optimistic piece despite it being about a long-distance relationship. The singer is overjoyed, knowing that the one she adores loves her back.

And now, knowing he is coming to see her, she is ecstatic. The happiness of being loved gives her the feeling of floating like she’s “walking on sunshine.” With the bouncy melody and memorable lyrics, it’s a song that a lot of people still know how to sing until this day.

5. “Waiting For The Sun” By The Doors

Let’s move on to a song with “sun” in the lyrics. “Waiting for the Sun” is a psychedelic blues rock song from The Doors‘ fifth album Morrison Hotel.

The simple lyrics describe the feeling of waiting for success and your time to come. The singer has been “waiting for the sun,” and now spring is here. After years of working, of planting seeds, the speaker is ready for harvest. But it doesn’t happen, and he’s left waiting.

The song was inspired by the futility of the American dream. People are promised happiness, wealth, and freedom if they work hard. It turns out to be a lie. But it’s one that people nonetheless believe, hook, line, and sinker.

6. “Ain’t No Sunshine” By Bill Withers

For our next sun song, we have Bill Withers’s first hit, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” from his 1971 album Just As I Am. This is one of those songs where the singer looks at his lover as his sunshine or source of happiness.

In the song, the singer tells us of the periodic absence of his lover. He doesn’t know where she goes to or how long she’s going to stay. But when she’s not around, his house doesn’t feel like a home.

He’s reduced to crying, “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.” She takes happiness, light, warmth, and joy with her. Without her, everything is cold and dark. The singer knows he shouldn’t feel this way, but he can’t help it.

Related: Next, check out our list of songs about light here.

7. “Sunshine On My Shoulders” By John Denver

Another song of positivity is the iconic “Sunshine on My Shoulders” by John Denver. Released in 1973, it peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Denver wrote the song at a time when he was eager for spring to come. It had been a dreary day, and everybody was raring to go outside and have fun. But the cold kept them from doing that. Denver was inspired by how the sunshine itself can make one feel good.

The song tells us that the sun brings happiness to all things it touches. But it can also be a metaphor for many things, such as letting love in and allowing it to warm you.

8. “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” By Stevie Wonder

For someone to say you are their sunshine, what an honor it would be. It gives you happiness knowing what you bring to the other person. And that’s exactly what Stevie Wonder says in “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.”

In the lyrics, the singer confesses to his love that she is the only one for him. She is the source of his happiness and joy. She is the very reason he rises every morning, and without her, there would be no happiness.

For her part, she must be a great person for the singer to want to be around her all the time. She has the kind of love that deserves his commitment and loyalty.

9. “Pocketful Of Sunshine” By Natasha Bedingfield

Not only is “Pocketful of Sunshine” one of the best songs about the sun. It is also the most infectious song that might get stuck in your head all day. This chart-topping song is from Natasha Bedifield‘s 2008 album of the same name.

This song is a statement about being a strong person. Sometimes people just can’t be happy with your success. They will try to bring you down or hurt you.

But the singer talks about a source of happiness, “a pocketful of sunshine” that no one can take away. It’s what gives her strength to remain standing.

10. “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” By Elton John

Our next song mentions “sun” in such a sad way. “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” appeared on Elton John‘s 1974 album Caribou.

The complexity and contradictions in love get captured in the full spectrum here. The singer is chasing and pulling away from his lover at the same time. He can’t be what she needs and doesn’t necessarily want to commit. But he also desperately doesn’t want to break up.

The explanation for this could be that he wants to save his relationship while at the same time finding himself. Both of which are not easy feats. But he implores her, “Don’t let the sun go down on me,” meaning not to leave him because of anger.

11. “Sunny Afternoon” By The Kinks

Up next is “Sunny Afternoon” from The Kinks‘ 1966 album Face to Face. It brings a different perspective to the realm of songs about the sun.

“Sunny Afternoon” is far from relishing happiness. The singer recounts having lost everything. His money, yacht, car, girlfriend, and even his reputation. All he has left is his house and a sunny afternoon.

At least he’s in control of how he can spend the afternoon, which he does by drinking beer. He’s asking for someone to help and save him from his situation. He has gotten used to living a luxurious life, and losing everything isn’t cutting it.

12. “Soak Up The Sun” By Sheryl Crow

If you need a song to cheer you up, Sheryl Crow is here with her hit “Soak Up the Sun.” It brings us back to the positive side of the light.

If you’ll notice, though, the song is a summertime anthem, but the lyrics talk about certain problems. She has “a crummy job,” and she can’t afford things like gas and a master suite.

Nevertheless, the singer remains optimistic and grateful for her life. She finds things to be thankful for, such as the sun. She plans to soak it up “while it’s still free.” She also sings about finding what you need in what you have and learning to be content and happy in that.

Related: Next, read our list of the best songs about light here.

13. “Sunshine Of Your Love” By Cream

As is the case with most songs, songwriters pull inspiration from their own experiences—even the simplest ones. In Cream‘s “Sunshine of Your Love,” lyricist Pete Brown wrote the lyrics after a night of being so caught up in work and having to work so late that he saw the sunrise.

In the lyrics, we find the singer on his way to see his lover. It’s dawn already, and he’s planning to surprise her. The song tells us that they have been separated for an unspecified period of time, but now he’s here to be with his love.

Which is something he’d been looking forward to for a while. He misses her and longs to be “in the sunshine” of her love. And he’s not going anywhere.

14. “Brighter Than The Sun” By Colbie Caillat

We all know so well how it feels at the start of a relationship. It’s exciting-you feel like floating. And the person who catches your interest and love, according to Colbie Caillat, is “Brighter than the Sun.”

This 2011 single from Caillat’s All of You album is a feel-good song that many can resonate with. It’s when you see this person for the first time, and you’re frozen in your spot. It’s love at first sight.

The singer can only say that they can shine “brighter than the sun.” And nothing – not problems, not circumstances – can ever dim that light. She’s saying that their love for each other will get them through anything.

15. “Black Hole Sun” By Soundgarden

If you were around in the ‘90s, you’d remember how much of a hit “Black Hole Sun” was. The American rock band Soundgarden released this song on their 1994 album, Superunknown.

Frontman Chris Cornell admitted that there wasn’t anything profound about the lyrics. It all started with the title that came from something he had misheard. In this interview, he said, “I heard ‘blah blah blah black hole sun blah blah blah’. I thought that would make an amazing song title.”

Then followed the lyrics, which he wrote based on a stream of consciousness. What he came up with was something that paints a nightmare world. The song says that the sun is too bright. Light and truth can be too much, and they can bring out things you don’t want to see.

16. “In the Sun” By Joseph Arthur

Our next song, Joseph Arthur‘s “In the Sun,” might be open to interpretation. One of which is from the perspective of a guy post-breakup or an apology for an ex.

It could be a mutual breakup as the singer harbors no anger or ill-will toward his former flame. Perhaps he still cares about her for him to say, “May God’s love be with you always.”

However, he is at a point in life where he needs to find himself first. Doing so means he cannot fully commit to her or to their relationship. But he wants her to know that she’s done great things in his life.

17. “Trip Around The Sun” By Kenny Chesney

Let’s continue down the list with Kenny Chesney‘s “Trip Around the Sun.” The song came from his 2016 album Cosmic Hallelujah.

The singer speculates about the end of the world but decides that it doesn’t matter. There’s nothing anyone can do about it. It’s beyond our control, so to speak.

We might as well enjoy the time we have here. Or, as the song says, “Let’s take another crazy trip around the sun.” It’s about being grateful for our lives even if “we’re just a drop of rain over a waterfall.”

18. “Island In The Sun” By Weezer

The 2001 hit song “Island in the Sun” is a laidback number from the American rock band Weezer. This is a departure from their heavy guitars to reflect one’s dream of running away to an island for some quality time with a loved one.

This happy song about the sun describes what many of us long for. A vacation! We dream of staying at an “island in the sun” where all we’ll do is have fun. Without worries and responsibilities, even for a little while.

The singer longs to run away with his lover to spend some much-needed R&R. Unfortunately, people can’t stay on vacation forever. The singer can only dream of such a grand vacation somewhere sunny.

19. “Who Loves The Sun” By The Velvet Underground

And finally, we have “Who Loves the Sun” from The Velvet Underground‘s 1970 album Loaded. Even though the music is sunny and carefree, this song is pretty much the anti-“Here Comes The Sun.”

It’s understandable, though. The singer feels bitter about a breakup that he can’t see the good in everything. He doesn’t care about the sun, the wind, the rain, or what they do. After all, what does it matter if the sun is shining outside if you’ve got a broken heart?

This song resists the idea of being uplifted or healed by nature. When you’re in emotional pain, you cannot see past it.

Summing Up Our List Of Sun Songs

Even though the sun is pure light, it has both a bright and a dark side. The songs above are proof of that. The sun gives light and life, but it also burns and blinds.

With these characteristics, the sun is the perfect symbol of love and happiness, as well as fire, pain, and too much of a good thing.

Did you like our list today? Did you find new songs and favorites? We hope they uplift your spirit and give you a reason to smile today.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.