August 21

John Denver and His Cheerful, Heartfelt Song “Sunshine on my Shoulders”

Just by listening to John Denver’s “Sunshine on my Shoulders,” you’ll immediately understand what made him so appealing to so many.

It first appeared on his fourth studio album, Poems, Prayers & Promises, released in 1971. But as Denver started gaining an audience with his heartwarming ballads singing about the pleasure of simple things, the song was re-released as a single two years later. As a result, it climbed up the charts, reaching the top spot of Billboard Hot 100.

It even got a big boost when it was used in the made-for-TV movie called Sunshine, which tells the story of a courageous woman dying of cancer.

Story Behind The Song 

According to John Denver, he wrote the song on an early spring day in Minnesota, when it was “dreary, gray and slushy.” As the rain gently fell and the snow was slowly melting, Denver found himself yearning to spend more time out-of-doors and reminiscing how sometimes just the sun alone is enough to make you feel better.

With that in mind, Denver attempted to compose a sad song. “I was so down I wanted to write a feeling-blue song,” he said. But it turns out he penned the exact opposite. The heartfelt ballad sings about appreciating the small joys in life and being thankful for anything even if it’s as common as the sunshine – and it’s just beautiful.

RELATED: Meet John Denver’s Children: Where are they now?

On top of that, the album version of the song came with an extra verse that you will not hear on the singles charts because of the track’s length. The second verse finds Denver pondering if he had a story and a wish. The full-length single mix was released on most of John Denver’s hits compilations.

Tune in below to listen to “Sunshine on my Shoulders” by John Denver. 


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