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I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash

Album: I Can See Clearly NowReleased: 1972Charted:
1
5
  • This is not a song about suicide, as has been hypothesized. It is a song of hope and courage for individuals who have experienced adversity in their lives but have overcome it. (thanks, Robert - Trumbull, CT)
  • Johnny Nash is a Texas singer/songwriter who recorded Reggae-influenced music. In 1967 he went to Jamaica and recorded his song "Hold Me Tight" and a cover of Sam Cooke's "Cupid" with a local rhythm section. Both songs became hits in Jamaica, and over the next two years also charted in England and the United States. By 1972, "Cecilia" and "Mother And Child Reunion" found some success in the States incorporating Reggae rhythms, and Nash followed that trend with "I Can See Clearly Now." Nash had legitimate Reggae credentials - Bob Marley (before he became crazy famous) was an assistant producer and session player on the album, and also wrote 3 of the songs, including "Stir It Up," which became Nash's next - and final - hit.
  • A cover version by Jimmy Cliff went to #18 in the US in 1994. His version was in the John Candy movie Cool Runnings, about the Jamaican bobsled team.
  • Nash wrote this song himself. He recorded it in London with members of The Average White Band, who in 1974 had a hit of their own with "Pick Up The Pieces."
  • This was #1 in the US for 4 weeks late in 1972.
  • This was featured in the opening sequence of the 1997 John Cusack film Grosse Pointe Blank. It was also used in the movie Themla And Louise. (thanks, Kristy - La Porte City, IA)
  • According to the official biography of Barclay James Harvest, "I Can See Clearly Now" sold seven million copies, and arranger Martyn Ford received the princely sum of £35 for his services. (thanks, Alexander Baron - London, England)
  • Ray Charles performed this on an episode of Saturday Night Live.
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Comments: 45

On December 16th 1972, Johnny Nash performed "I Can See Clearly Now" on the ABC-TV 'American Bandstand'...
At the time the song was at #9 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and forty-eight days earlier on October 29th, 1972 it peaked at #1 {for 4 weeks} and spent 20 weeks on the Top 100...
And on November 18th, 1972 it also reaching #1 {for 2 week} on the Canadian RPM 100 Singles chart...
Between 1957 and 1974 he had eleven Top 100 records; two made the Top 10, his other Top 10 record was "Hold Me Tight", which reached #5 {for 2 weeks} on November 3rd, 1968...
One of his Top 100 records was with Paul Anka and George Hamilton IV, "The Teen Commandments", it peaked at #29 in 1958...
John Lester Nash, Jr. will celebrate his 75th birthday come next August 19th {2015}.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Upon awakening this morning the dots all connected for me. During breakfast, the realization felt gave me joy and love.
Without knowledge, true knowledge, none of that could have happened. Music or movies have played next to no role in my life.
Still I remembered this song as it played in the background of my mind. Sitting at the computer immediately after hearing it my intention was to get a hold of my riends and share. But clarity asked that the lyrics were in fact a clear picture of my feelings and my inspiration.
After googling " I can see clearly now.", my priority is to express my gratitude to the writer or singer for helping me celebrate. A big hug!
Without the clouds and rain we would be in dire straights. Evolution would not be possible. Growth would not be possible, ask any plant.
Oh, and something else I heard then was, " Judge not...." .
Ronaldino2 - Monterrey, Nl, Mexico
Also, I wanna elaborate on the "positive message" thing. 2010 was a terrible year for me...it didn't have to be though. I had no girlfriend, I had no more all-access bus pass, I had a job with a boss who made me feel like Anne Frank, I didn't get to see my best friend from my grad class for seven months, a good friend of mine from my favorite record store disappeared without notice...and to top it off, I had some very unhelpful upstairs neighbours who never gave me the chance to be their friend, never problem-solved with me and always reported me to the landlord, making me look bad. It was only after they moved out when I knew what terrible people they were. About a month later, however, a religious couple from Arizona moved in upstairs. And they were quite the opposite of the old tenants...very kind, very open, very welcoming... And if I had a bad day at work or even just out somewhere, it would be nice if I could at least say hello to them. The nasty people before the Arizonans were the rain, the dark clouds, the pain and the bad feelings...but the Arizonans were the rainbow I'd been praying for and my bright sunshiny day. (They still are three years later.) By the way, I love Jimmy Cliff's cover too.Miles - Vancouver, Canada
I completely disagree that this song about suicide...that's just retarded. However, however, HOWEVER, it might have been written as a song to prevent suicide, hence its upbeat theme, but that's just what I think. Who cares? I love the song. It gives us a positive message to live by. The verses alone are very touching...bright sunshiny day, indeed.Miles - Vancouver, Canada
There have been other (lesser) versions of this song, but what I especially love about THIS one is the amazing harmony all-in-one-breath vocals on the "Nothin' but blue skies" in the middle. The singers must've really had to take a BIG ol' breath to hold that swaying vocalization. (Try it sometime-it ain't easy!)Dave - Oak Forest, Il
I've been captivated lately by Johhny Nash's " I can see clearly now " What an Awesome, spiritual, up-lifting tune ! The vocal tracks are so full of life and joyous redemtion. The pairing of Nash's voice and the background vocals are so well produced and powerful, it jerks a tear from my eye. And I'll play it over and over. Two crows on B.J.and the Dirty Dragon turned me on to it in the mid 70's , who'd a thunk ?Mike - Griffith, In
I tried to use this song on one of my slide shows on You Tube, but You Tube will not le me use it. The slide show starts off with a couple pictures off with a nasty dust and rain storm. Later, the sun and a double rainbow shows up. You Tube blocks the soundtrack, so I replaced it with someone MIDI file that I found on the Net.
The MIDI version does not have that same impact as the original version of the song, but here it is anyways:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tklwg2QWlX0
Sam - Somewhere, Ca
Fact: from a Musical point of view the song (for the most part) is in a major key. That is a dead give away that it is meant to be positive. (Song writing 101) In the bridge, it goes in and out of a minor key change twice and creates a feeling of sad moving to happy. A feeling of movement and overcoming. (again basic song writing) It is simply beautiful and, that is why it is so powerful.

All that was fact, if you know how to play music you will at least understand what I was talking about. For the people that would analyze it more, I would be happy to but, this is for my point, not a theory class and its simple on purpose so I can add what this opinion is based on:

The song opens with almost a "weaker" side to Johnny's style and builds towards a more powerful expression of joy. The last part is where that "trumpet like voice" just shines so bright. I find the bridge (the sad to happy to sad to happy chord progression) a perfect expression of what it overcoming feels like, a slow up and down movement, until you look around and see its was over a few days ago, you just forgot to think about it. (I hope if you are out there you understand that and find the strength to try another day) For those of us that have been through sad times and did not give in to the void of ending a life, this song sings to the over comer, not the suicide.

I can see how a sad person would see this from the suicide angle (I can only tell you I have seen very hard times but, even tho I wont waist your time comparing pain, whatever could make you think of suicide while hearing this is a lie and I pray they hang on till they feel the "movement" Johnny sings with (and love it as I do now.) I feel so sad that they are missing the point, I did too until the clouds were gone, and they do leave. I simply love this song.
John - West Chester, Pa
This song was played at a friends funeral who died from cancer. All the pain is gone- this person is not suffering anymore. Gone are all the dark clouds, the rain is gone (tears) When you hear it at a funeral for a someone who had cancer it has a different meaning. The rainbow here is being pain free.Gail - Madison, Wi
MusicMama you are insightful and sweet. I never thought this was about suicide, either, quite the contrary, but I do get a weird vibe from it. I think it might be the bridge that does it, but then comes right back in to "I can see clearly, now...", which works to reinforce the optimistic vibe of the song. Nevertheless, do not forget
"Goodday Sunshine", or perhaps "Groovin'". The Stones "Shattered" ALWAYS seems to get me going but then again, I'm a native New Yorker, so... Ricky, Tustin, Ca
Richard - Tustin, Ca
I would love to know ,what johnny nash is doing now...i wish he would bring another song out ...and i could go and see him...lilian liverpoolxxxxLilian - Liverpool, United Kingdom
I call this the Prozac Song. It reflects my thoughts and feelings after 16 years of clinical depression and finding a medication that worked. The song never fails to make me stop and be thankful that part of my life is behind me.Felicia - Baltimore, Md
Not too much info on the production of this tune... I was hoping to either reinforce or debunk my theory that there were never any real horns played on this track. I believe it (in my capacity to know and tell) to be a modular Moog synthesizer, because if you really listen to every minute detail of the horn lines, the tell-tale filter sweep and the crispiness of the oscillator tones reveal something that to me can only be a Moog. Not a VCS 3 or a minimoog, or even an Arp 2600, but a modular Moog. Any facts out there?Jesse - Madison, Wi
Johnny Nash had probably only the second Reggae song to hit the U.S. charts. The first is usually considered to be Desmond Dekker's "The Israelites" from 1968.
Johnny was reportedly singing again at Sugar Hill recording studio in his native Houston in May 2006. If he ever toured again, I would go see him, if only to hear him do I Can See Clearly Now! But I also like Stir it Up and Hold Me Tight.
Alan - City, Mi
How did I miss out on this song back in '72? Great song. Very uplifting. Suicide? Are you out of your mind?Chris - Hampstead, Nh
When I here this song it always makes me happy. It makes me think about how heaven will be.Sarah - Stephenville, Tx
I was released from Federal Prison, [Mail Fraud] in October 1972. I was 50 years old,on parole, unemployed, my wife had run away with my favorite bartender, my home was in fore closer. "I Can See Clearly Now" was released in November 1972. I started dating women about half my age as this song soared to the top. Happy Times!Thomas S. Tierney - San Bernardino, Ca
It is one day after Barack Obama took the oath of office. Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha are in the White House. The country and the world are trembling with the adrenaline of hope, gratitude and relief. This song is the exact song for that mood. Would that it could last forever. Savor it for every moment that it does. Play the song over and over.Lana - Memphis, Tn
This song is simply about recovering from a devastating breakup of a love relationship and the pain the follows. It is about getting over the hurt, and having a positive outlook of the future. It all about moving on!Steeleagle - Pittsburgh, Pa
I heard Nash was tied to a tree and left alone overnignt to experience a thunderstorm and afterwards the dawn to a sunny day.Ken - Wichita, Ks
The 'rainbow'is not so-called 'suicide',the 'rainbow'is what he has been praying for-the light to happyness.(shelli)Michaela - Brooklyn, Ny
I've never heard this as anything but a song of hope--and an excellent one at that. The thing is, the melodies and instrumentation also depict the pain that the persona of this song has experienced. Perhaps people only hear that part, and think it's a song about suicide or something.




I'm going to make a CD that includes this song, the Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun," Bob Marley's "Comin' In From the Cold," and
"Redemption Song," Melanie's "Lay Down," Bette Midler's "The Rose" and others to be determined. I'll play it when I'm feeling down.
Musicmama - New York, Ny
Back in the day, when this song first came out, my older brother and I saw Johnny Nash sing it on the ABC show "Don Kershner's In Concert". My brother told me that Johnny had just gotten off substance abuse, and that this song was his "purifying" rite.

My older brother was and is a musician, so I took him at his word (although he was the one who spoiled the Santa Clause thing for me).

I always took it as a positive song, as did many of my contemporaries.

Great tune.

Rob - New Jersey
Robert - Hayden, Az
Jimmy Carlin uses this music as his background music in the skate video "Black and White"Kyle - Jefferson, Md
When I was growing up and heard this song, I always thought it was a woman singing it. Hmmm...Mary - Phoenix, Az
For me, a song of hope and recovery. It's all I can do to sit here at work and think about the circumstances under which I first heard it (November 1972)and maintain my composure.

I'll just say that was moments after the first time I ever connected with my own pain and that I wasn't alone. Really, I felt like I was seeing clearly for the first time and that a major obstacle had been broken through.
Bruce - North Of Nyc, Ma
can't help but think of the movie "up in smoke" Cheech sings this in the car after they get stoned. ray. palm bay, flRay - Palm Bay, Id
This song has always been special I think it might have been #1 when I was born Dec 1972. March 2004 my youngest daughter was born and this song was on the radio in the O.R. I knew that there were going to be big problems (the doctors didn't know yet) but that it would end happy and be a bright sun shiny day! I knew that even if she died that somehow it was going to be happy. My Daughter has CDLS only this year has it been really pretty easy. I'm sure we are not done but we can do it!! It's gonna be a bright sun shiny day!Heather - Sacramento, Ca
Wow, I've always felt incredibly sad when hearing this song - and I've never understood why, as the lyrics are rather optimistic. But as Shelli says, they could really be about something like suicide. The song's got a tragic, fatalistic mood, like he's given up, or left something he loved behind. Anyway - the song is magic, the production is crisp.Johan - Oslo, Norway
As a recovering alcoholic, this song has always had great meaning to me in recovery - whether or not he wrote it from that perspective: "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It's gonna be a bright sun shiny day.
I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I've been prayin' for
It's gonna be a bright sun shiny day"

Indeed!
Bill - Columbus, Oh
"I think I can make it now the pain has gone". How could a song with that line be about suicide?!?!Dave - Cardiff, Wales
Where is Johnny Nash now? Does he have a fan club?James - London, England
Being that I am presently (2006) going through some of the worse/difficult times in my life, this song is an inspiration and makes me wwant to try and rise above adversity and from the yoke of my adversaries and see the sunshine that's waiting at the end of the tunnel (hopefully). Only then will I be able to say and sing with thanksgiving and gladness that "I can see clearly now the rain is gone...."John-martin - Silver Creek, Ms
I'm 58 years old have seen many a great band live and own an extensive collection of classic rock music. That being said this is my favourite song of all time just because it make me feel good.Alan - Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
I didn't find the song depressing at all.Howard - St. Louis Park, Mn
Johnny began recording for ABC Paramount in the late 50's, but his biggest claim to fame was the introduction of reggae with his top 10 hit "Hold Me Tight" in 1968, opening the doors for Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, and the others that followed, including his own hits "I Can See Clearly Now" (1972) and "Stir It Up" (1973).Rick - San Juan, United States
Suicide??? Shelli, you could not be more wrong! On the contrary, it is a song about beating the odds and reaching one's goals!Robert - Trumbull, Ct
Where is Johnny Nash?Rick - Tucson, Az
This song was in the Spike Lee's movie "Crooklyn" (1994) as well.François - Montr�al, Canada
I had some gospel singers sing this at my mother's funeral - it was an amazing moment. A truly spiritual and uniquely uplifting record. I wonder if Marvin Gaye ever covered it?Erik - London, England
Shelli ..I hope you are feeling better ..
If not, get some help...songs about blue skies and sunshine are good things..
Rich - Elkins, Wv
The song was also a Top 30 UK hit in 1990 for Hothouse Flowers - the Irish band who plundered the charts worldwide in 1988 with "Don't Go".Dave - Cardiff, Wales
Why do people always try to interpret every song as about drugs or suicide? Geez. This is happy song.Kurt - Downers Grove, Il
Just a song about having a bad day or life and being able to get over it peacefully.Mike - Covina, Ca
The lyrics can also be construed as a song about suicide. The pain is gone and the he can see the obstacles. The "rainbow" is the way out - suicide.Shelli - Madison, Wi