Terry Sarten

Singer Songwriter

Watch it Sunshine

I hear that Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called another MP David Seymour ’’Sunshine’’ as a form of put-down response to being called Grandpa. The odd thing about this is that while Peters is actually a Grandfather, David Seymour is most certainly not ‘Sunshine’ in any shape or form.

It did remind me of another ‘watch out for the Sunshine moment’ when investigating the famous song ‘You are my Sunshine’. It was adopted as a State Song in Louisiana, presumably because of its jaunty cheerful chorus that ‘will make you happy whenever skies are grey.’ They clearly don’t know the rest of the lyrics – if they did, they would probably ‘hang their heads and cry.’

I read the words and contemplated turning what appears to be a cheerful little number into a slow gritty slide guitar blues to match the lyrics in the verses which intone a jealous jilted partner threatening revenge. Check out the lyrics. The words include some very intimidating phrases such as ‘But if you leave me and love another / You'll regret it all someday’. These lines have a distinct ominous ring that alludes to some form of revenge unless the love is retuned.

Line such as ‘So when you come back and make me happy / I'll forgive you dear, I'll take all the blame’ have a strong whiff of it being the lovers roll to fix the singers life.

For some reason, perhaps my social work experience of working with domestic violence, it seems clear that the singer is a man who is demanding that love be returned as a right rather than as something earned
A female singer I have worked with took one look at the verses and said ‘I’m not singing that’. I agreed it was an unsettling song with its odd mix of sunny side up and low-down dark rumblings. It was dropped from the set list.

I have on occasions pointed out the strange dynamic in the song to surprised reactions as most people only know the chorus which is eminently hummable and mostly harmless. Maybe many people don’t actually listen to the words of songs. A classic example is the Police song ‘Every Breath You Take’ which is widely regarded as a love song and often played at weddings. Do those to be wed not listen to the lyrics? It is a stalkers words detailing how he will be watching “Every breath you take and every move you make / Every bond you break, every step you take, I'll be watching you/ Every single day and every word you say”.

If that’s not a declaration of a stalkers intention to attempt to completely control another person’s life then I don’t know what else it needs to make this any clearer than the songs author Gordon Summers already has. Perhaps an extra verse in which the singer says he’s sorry for acting like an arsehole might help listeners to get the point the song is making.

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