I recently worked up an arrangement of Sunny by Bobby Hebb for my uke students. I always like to do a bit of research about the songs I share with students, being that we are in a time of cultural reflection and shift. Some songs that I am initially enthusiastic about I end up shelving because of the history of the song or because of something about it that just doesn’t sit right. And sometimes, I find out some surprising information about a song that makes me want to share it even more. This was the case with Sunny.
Here’s an article about the events and feelings that led up to Bobby Hebb writing this iconic song. It’s about living through tragedy and making something uplifting out of the experience. It worked for me.
“It was dark when I started working on the song, and the sun was rising, and it was a different color, the sky was like purple. At that moment I didn’t realize how special [the song] would become. I thought that it was good, and it would help, but I did not know how much … the president had been assassinated and the very next day my brother got killed. Everybody was feeling rather negative at that time, and I think we all needed a lift.”