35 Best Songs About the Sun and Sunshine to Brighten Your Day

We’ve got a lot to thank the sun for. Life, for a start. And some amazing songs. So time to do your best sun salute and bask in these songs about the sun.

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“Soak Up The Sun” by Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow’s hit song “Soak Up the Sun” is a cheerful tune that also discusses real-life problems, such as having a low-paying job and struggling to afford necessities. Despite these challenges, the song maintains an optimistic tone, expressing gratitude for life’s simple pleasures, like the sun. The song encourages listeners to find contentment and happiness in what they already have.

“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

From the Beatles 1969 album Abbey Road, George Harrison’s ‘Here Comes the Sun’ is one of the greatest songs about the sun. It’s also his best-known composition and the most-streamed Beatles song on Spotify globally. The lyrics are full of positivity and celebrate the arrival of spring (“the ice is slowly melting”) and happiness to see the back of a “long, cold, lonely winter.” Harrison wrote it at the country house of his friend and fellow rocker, Eric Clapton. Harrison was playing truant for the day – he didn’t want to attend a meeting at the Beatles’ HQ. And boy, are we glad he did!

“Island in the Sun” by Weezer

One of the best songs about the sun in recent years by indie rock maestros Weezer. This was the second single from their 2001 self-titled Weezer album (also known as the ‘Green Album’ thanks to the color of its sleeve) – the song nearly didn’t make it onto the album, but producer Ric Ocasek fought for its inclusion. The song also garnered frontman Rivers Cuomo will plenty of praise, with comparisons to The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.

Recommended: See our pick of the most popular Weezer songs.

“The Sound of Sunshine” by Michael Franti and Spearhead

Recovering after a ruptured appendix in 2009 (which nearly finished him off), Franti learned to appreciate all the little things again, like the sun shining through his window. Sat in the sun, he felt his body healing. This experience helped him understand how essential sunlight is for healing. Unfortunately, the sun does not shine every day (and rarely shines in hospital rooms). So he put sunlight in a place where anyone can find it – in this song.

“Blister in the Sun” by Violent Femmes

This iconic song appeared on the first self-titled debut Violent Femmes album from 1983. Writer Gordan Gano was only 19 years old when they released it. According to an interview with Gano in Village Voice, the song is about “the strung out feeling that comes from drug abuse.” The song gained a cult following and was a favorite on American college radio in the ’80s. It has since been considered a classic of the genre.

Recommended: Check out our countdown of songs by the Violent Femmes.

“Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves

Here’s the ultimate sunshine song. A song about unbridled joy, the feel-good ‘Walking On Sunshine’ is one of the most positive songs out there. Unfortunately for the band, when Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, ‘Katrina and the Waves’ appeared in numerous headlines. Despite its success, Katrina & the Waves are considered a one-hit wonder in the US, having never followed up on the success of this song. But save your pity. Royalties from this sun song with its catchy melody are thought to be in the region of $1 million per year. Not bad, eh.

“Higher Than the Sun” by Primal Scream

The clubbing drug of choice in the ’90s was Ecstacy, used in illegal raves up and down the British Isles. Whole music genres were built around its apparent ability to get the audience ‘loved up’ and dance nonstop. Usually with a whistle. With its ethereal, ‘trippy’ production, ‘Higher Than the Sun’ was designed to approximate the experience of being “mashed.” Singer Bobby Gillespie called this song “a massive jump onto another planet.” Listening back years later, he’s right. It feels almost futuristic. There’s a cheeky little bit at the end. If you listen carefully, you can hear Gillespie at the end say, “I get mine for 15” referring to the price he paid (£15) for a pill.

“Trip Around the Sun” by Kenny Chesney

‘Trip Around the Sun’ is by American country music artist Kenny Chesney (who’s one of the kings of the ‘island rock’ genre – we feature him in our list of beach songs). His songs are always optimistic. He’s totally the guy to listen to if you’re taking yourself too seriously. Here, he states: “We’re all swimmin’ in a fish bowl / Just floatin’ through the sky / Pulled along by gravity and nobody knows why.” He has a point.

“Who Loves the Sun” by The Velvet Underground

From their excellent Loaded! album, ‘Who Loves the Sun’ is a cheery (for them) song about getting jilted. With his broken heart, everything seems rubbish: “Who cares what it does, since you broke my heart?” Was this a little dig at The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes the Sun’ or even the Beach Boys? The harmonies in the chorus certainly suggest so.

“She’s Only Happy in the Sun” by Ben Harper

We all love a sunny day. Well, most of us. Here, the sun equates to being high on drugs. As such, this song is about a struggle with addiction that a girl he knows is facing. “She’s only happy in the sun” can be read as “She’s only happy when she’s high.” There’s also a warning, alluding to overdosing: “If the sun sets you free, you’ll be free indeed.”

“Cold Day in the Sun” by Foo Fighters

Written and sung by the late drummer Taylor Hawkins, ‘Cold Day in the Sun’ appeared on Foo Fighters’ fifth album, In Your Honor. Hawkins himself admitted, “To be honest, the lyrics suck!” In the studio version, Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl switched roles. Dave went behind the drum kit (like Nirvana days!), and Taylor plays guitar and sings. Man, what a loss.

“Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” by Pink Floyd

‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’ appeared on Pink Floyd’s second album, A Saucerful of Secrets, and is an early Roger Waters composition. The lyrics were inspired by a book of Chinese poetry (from the Tang Dynasty), that Roger Waters owned. It’s notable as it’s the only Pink Floyd song that features all five band members of the band playing together (with both Gilmour and Barrett on guitar).

“Saturday Sun” by Nick Drake

From the masterful Nick Drake, ‘Saturday Sun’ is a song about the good and difficult times in one’s life, and how the fun times often go unrecognized and unnoticed – until the bad times come knocking on your door. It’s a song about living in the moment and not letting life pass you by, much like ‘Moonshadow’ by Cat Stevens (that features on our songs about the moon playlist)

“Waiting For the Sun” by The Doors

From The Doors’ fifth album, Morrison Hotel, ‘Waiting for the Sun’ is a song about waiting for something that never comes. Some think it’s about waiting for ‘the American Dream’ that never materializes (we are left “to live in the scattered sun”), or are we waiting for knowledge, truth, or for this LSD trip to kick in (Morrison was notorious for that). The song features a classic bit of Morrison surrealism: “This is the strangest life I’ve ever known.” Rather amusingly, the song ‘Waiting for the Sun’ was omitted from the album of the same name. What were they thinking?

“You are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder

‘You are the Sunshine of My Life’ topped the US charts in 1972 from Wonder’s brilliant ‘Talking Book’ album. Written for Syreeta Wright, whom Wonder married in 1970, it’s a sweet song. Sadly, it didn’t work out, and two years later, they divorced. “I was always living in his shadow,” she said. Despite this, it remains a heartfelt expression of everlasting love.

“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers

‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ was a breakthrough hit for soul legend Bill Withers. At the time of writing, Withers was a factory worker making bathrooms for 747 airplanes. When the infectious song went gold, his record company rather amusingly presented him with a golden toilet seat. In the third verse, Withers sings “I know, I know, I know” a total of 26 times! He’d run out of lyrics at the time and planned to add some lyrics in their place later on.

“Good Day Sunshine” by The Beatles

This lighthearted love song includes barrelhouse-style piano (played by George Martin) that evokes an old-time vaudevillian feel. McCartney’s intention was to create something similar to Lovin’ Spoonful’s hit ‘Daydream.’ The Kinks’ ‘Sunny Afternoon’ was possibly another source of inspiration for McCartney. The song contrasted with the more austere and experimental songs on the album Revolver (it’s also the only song on the album about love). Many think the song’s lightheartedness (a sign of things to come from McCartney) dilutes the album’s strengths.

Related: This one also appears on our playlist of sunrise songs.

“You Are My Sunshine” by Johnny Cash

The heartwarming classic ‘You Are My Sunshine’ has been recorded by everyone, including Bing Crosby, Johnny Cash, and Carly Simon. It has also been declared one of the state songs of Louisiana because of its association with Jimmie Davis, a governor of the state.

Recommended: The song also appears on the O Brother Where Art Thou? Soundtrack.

“House Of The Rising Sun” by The Animals

The origin of the traditional folk song “House of the Rising Sun” is unknown, but many versions have been created since 1905. The most successful version is by The Animals in 1964. The song warns about the dangers of a gambling den in New Orleans, advising parents not to let their children fall into the same trap.

“Sunshine On My Shoulders” by John Denver

Inspired by Denver’s longing for spring and the happiness brought by sunshine, this track can also be interpreted as a metaphor for letting love in and allowing it to thaw you out. Denver often recounted the story of how he composed the song on a cold, rainy day in Minnesota in 1971.

Recommended: Here’s our pick of John Denver’s greatest hits.

“Pocketful Of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield

A tune about resilience and finding personal happiness that others cannot tarnish. It emphasizes the importance of inner strength in the face of adversity.

“Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” by Elton John and George Michael

This song captures the complexity and contradictions of love, with the singer simultaneously pursuing and distancing himself from his lover, struggling with commitment but not wanting to end the relationship. The line “Don’t let the sun go down on me” is a plea to his lover not to leave him. This version with George Michael is especially good.

“The Sun Will Rise” by Kelly Clarkson

This pop song uses the sun as a symbol of hope, suggesting that no matter how tough things get, there will be better days ahead. It is particularly aimed at those who have experienced bullying or harassment, offering them solace and strength.

“Sunny Afternoon” by The Kinks

This Kinks classic tells the story of a man who has lost everything, leaving him with only a sunny afternoon. Despite his losses, he finds solace in the control he has over how he spends his afternoon. At least no one can take that away from him.

“Chasing The Sun” by The Wanted

This electro-pop hit is about pursuing personal life goals. It promotes the idea of chasing dreams and enjoying the journey, despite the inevitable challenges. The song’s main message is to not take life too seriously and to keep striving for success.

“Sunshine Of Your Love” by Cream

Inspired by lyricist Pete Brown’s experience of working late into the night and seeing the sunrise, the song tells the story of a man who has been separated from his lover and is now on his way to surprise her at dawn. The lyrics use the metaphor of sunshine to express the singer’s love for his girlfriend, and while some considered them vulgar at the time of release, they also suggest a sensual encounter.

“She’s Only Happy In The Sun” by Ben Harper

The song’s narrator equates the euphoria of being in the sun to the high experienced from substance use. The character in the song finds joy in sunny days, often enhanced by her substance use. However, the song also serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of substance abuse, including overdose and addiction.

“Brighter Than The Sun” by Colbie Caillat

The song describes the experience of love at first sight, where the object of affection seems to shine brighter than anything else. Caillat suggests that this love is so strong that it can overcome any obstacles or challenges.

“Sunshine Song” by Jason Mraz

The protagonist feels overshadowed by grey clouds, while others seem to enjoy sunshine (happiness). The song promotes the idea of reaching out to those going through tough times, offering help and reassurance of their worth, especially if they’re struggling.

“Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden

Written in a stream of consciousness style, the lyrics depict a nightmarish world where the sun’s brightness and truth reveal some harsh truths.

“Seasons In The Sun” by Westlife

A song about the impermanence of all things and the importance of cherishing small moments before moving on. The narrator expresses gratitude to his child for bringing joy to his life, his childhood friend for shared adventures, and his father for teaching him how to be good.

“In the Sun” by Joseph Arthur

The lyrics suggest a mutual breakup with no hard feelings, as the singer wishes his ex well and acknowledges her positive impact on his life. However, the song also implies that the singer needs to focus on self-discovery and cannot fully commit to a relationship at this time.

“Lovers On The Sun” by David Guetta Ft. Sam Martin

The song was written by Avicii and features a Spaghetti Western music video inspired by Italian composer Ennio Morricone. The song’s theme revolves around a passionate romance.

“Away From The Sun” by 3 Doors Down

The rock song is about the narrator’s struggle to find meaning in his life, feeling trapped in a dark hole of despair. The sun is portrayed as a symbol of hope and happiness, a guiding light to help him escape his darkness. The song conveys the message that one should not be overwhelmed by problems, but instead, like the sun, continue to radiate positivity.

“Sunshine” by Matisyahu

Matisyahu, with the assistance of his producer Kool Kojak and guitarist DP Holmes, composed this pop song in 2012. The song is about re-establishing a connection with one’s past through various means such as recollection, meditation, and music. He emphasizes the importance of remembering one’s roots as they shape one’s present.

Honorable Mentions:

  • “Sunshine Superman” by Donovan
  • “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash
  • “Sunrise” by Norah Jones
  • “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks

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About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

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