No. 3 in Top 50 Bee Gees’ Songs 1966-72
By Barry, Maurice & Robin Gibb
Lead Vocal: Robin
Album Horizontal 1968
“You should be here standing so near to me”
My enthusiasm for the Bee Gees wanes a little with their drift towards all-out, orchestral emotional ballads. And the Sun Will Shine is one of the earliest examples (if you listen to the albums purely chronologically – we haven’t quite got to Massachusetts yet!).
We’re not talking First of May sentimentality here. And the Sun Will Shine is a far more sophisticated, nuanced beast.
And the Sun Will Shine has a fascinating, unique atmosphere, one of angst, despair even, giving way to a kind of redemption.
I would say it is about someone experiencing the intense pain of a love that has ended. This is never made explicit but we are presented with images of rain, clouds, trees, birds and trains, a landscape of the mind and possibly also an actual place which the lovers used to share. Now this place evokes emptiness and an indifferent world (‘Trains roar by and the birds disappear’) through which one of them tries to work through his feelings.
There is a plea to ‘give me time alone’ as if the singer recognises the necessary cathartic nature of what must be endured in order to reach a kind of freedom beyond. He is overcome with grief but it is punctuated by moments of clarity and self awareness – ‘I know it’s only the weather’.
The orchestration gives the sense of waves of ruminating emotion gathering force. I love the way from time to time the ‘cellos break through the strings’ swell like an emotional undercurrent, particularly effective at 1.51-1.54.
Pause for thought
As a contrast, the song uses pauses to provide respite and insight ‘Then I wake up/Then I grow up’. The orchestra falls away and these phrases are accompanied by a cor anglais/harpsichord motif, underlining the clarion ‘wake-up’ call.
For the chorus – ‘And the sun will shine…’ – the orchestra swells once again but the key has shifted from minor to major, the mood from despair to uplift, even ecstasy.
The song’s overall dark/light feel is contained even within the final few seconds of Robin’s falling away ‘And the love…’ over a fairly rapid fade and then his barely heard higher register vocal in the final moments.
Overall though, despite its ‘clautrophobic’ verses, the light side triumphs; the clue is there in the title’s ‘And…’ , pointing to an optimistic, cyclic inevitability.
And the Sun Will Shine – and its near neighbour on Horizontal Really and Sincerely – were issued as single A and B-sides in France. That underscores the European – dare I say, existential – flavour of both songs.
Interesting that some of Robin’s lyrics were ad libbed although you would never guess this.
Interesting also that the fullness of the orchestration, which feels such an integral part of this song was actually added later, foreshadowing techniques Robin was to use on his 1969/70 solo material, Robin’s Reign and Sing Slowly Sisters
The aching quality of Robin’s voice (recorded in one take) and the surround of the orchestra come together to create a particular kind of interior emotionality which I’ve never encountered elsewhere.