Sunshine On My Shoulders

Album: Poems, Prayers & Promises (1971)
Charted: 1


  • Denver wrote this song on an early spring day in Minnesota when the rain was gently falling. He found himself looking forward to spending more time outdoors and enjoying the sunshine. He said of the song, "On one level it was about the virtues of love. On another, more deeply felt level, it reached for something the whole world could embrace."
  • This song first appeared on John Denver's 1971 album Poems, Prayers & Promises. Denver was a struggling singer/songwriter at the time who was enjoying his first solo hit "Take Me Home Country Roads," which was released a few months before the album and was climbing the charts. Over the next few years, Denver found an audience with his heartwarming, spiritual songs that dealt with finding pleasure in the simple things. "Sunshine" was revived in 1973 when it was used as the B-side of Denver's single "I'd Rather Be a Cowboy," which reached #62 in the US. Later that year, "Sunshine On My Shoulders" was issued as an A-side single, and for a week in late March/early April 1974, it was the #1 song in America. Seems the United States was in a kinder, happier mood at the time, as the next #1 was "Hooked On A Feeling" by Blue Swede.
  • This song got a big boost when it was used in a November 1973 made-for-TV movie called Sunshine, a weeper about a woman dying of cancer who recorded messages for her family in her final days. The concept was used in a spin-off series the next year, also called Sunshine.

    Denver said of the original TV movie: "It was the true story of Lyn Helton, an incredibly courageous lady who chose to live her short life to the fullest even though she knew she would die of a rare bone cancer in a matter of months. It seems that in the last year of her life she found some happiness in my music. I was most honored to have my songs used as part of that television show."
  • This was used in the 1994 episode of The Simpsons called "Bart of Darkness." It also appeared in a 2005 episode of the show Cold Case.
  • Denver wrote this song with his lead guitarist Mike Taylor and bass player Richard Kniss. Taylor also co-wrote "Rocky Mountain High" with Denver.

Comments: 15

  • John from Middleburg FloridaI think John was one of the people who came into my life , that gave me a complete understanding of what a great singer is all about. I do a lot of camping in upstate N.Y. In Seneca County. And I always have my Songs of John Denner playing when I'm relaxing in a campground. He was and still one of the best singers I ever got to see in concert and his albums. Thank You Mr. in peace.
  • Susan from Atlanta, GeorgiaAccording to a biography show I saw about John, he and his first wife Annie had adopted two children because John was believed to be sterile, but with second wife Cassandra Delaney, he fathered (the biological way) Jesse Belle.
  • Rob from Seattle, WaYep, the fact that John was sterile is well known, although the comment he made about "somehow knowing that" at 13 is laughable. I believe the explanation I read in his autobiography re: his "natural born daughter" was that he and his then wife visited some Australian witch doctor that somehow magically made him fertile- and I'm sure he WANTED to believe that. I've heard about how his daughter "looks just like" her father. In reality, she looks just like her mother. So believe whatever story makes you feel better. "Biological father" is the easy part anyway; the fact that John loved her and raised her as his own is all that really matters.
  • Charles from Bronxville, NySo Carlyle Williams - perhaps you hould check YOUR facts before posting them on this website...
  • Charles from Bronxville, NyPerhaps he was mistaken when he said it in the interview:
    PLAYBOY: He's an adopted Indian boy, isn't he?

    DENVER: Yes, a quarter Cherokee. When Annie and I adopted him, we talked about wanting to educate him to his heritage, his culture, where he comes from. But my desire for that is now deeper than I ever dreamed. His heritage is a beautiful one, strong and solid and totally in touch with the universe. I really want him to be able to express that and experience it. I want to take him to the reservation. I want him to spend time with those people who are his.

    PLAYBOY: You have two children, both adopted. Why did you adopt children?

    DENVER: Annie and I wanted children very much, but I'm sterile.

    PLAYBOY: Has that been difficult for you to handle?

    DENVER: Yes and no. Somehow, it's one of those things that I always knew, since I was 13 years old. It was just a feeling I had. But I never spoke about it, though I mentioned my feeling to Annie when we got married. For a while, we went along not wanting to have children, and then we tried for about four or five years, but nothing was happening. We went through a bunch of tests where everybody assumed it was Annie's problem. They always assume it's the woman's problem, so they checked her out and there's absolutely nothing wrong with her. It took 15 minutes to find out that I'm sterile. It wasn't a shock to me at all, but Annie went through a brief period of great sadness and compassion for me, perhaps for us. On a couple of occasions, before we adopted Zackary and Anna Kate, I went through some real grief, deep depressions and feeling sorry for myself, for Annie and me. Then we started working on the adoption right away, five years ago, and it took some time
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyBetween January 1974 & August 1975 John Denver charted with five Top 10 records and four of them peaked at No. 1; SUNSHINE ON MY SHOULDERS {#1}, ANNIE'S SONG {#1}, BACK HOME AGAIN {#5}, THANK GOD I'M A COUNTRY BOY {#1}, and finally I'M SORRY {#1}...
  • Jeff from Atlanta, GaThe comment above said that JOhn Denver's father was a "German aviator who turned up in Roswell, NM just after World War II"
    This is about as misleading as you can get - his father "Dutch" was born in Oklahoma - raised on the "old Deutchendorf family farm" (John's real last name) and was one of the very first pilots taken from the Army Air Corp to form the Air Force - he held several world speed records!! His name was German - but he'd never been to Germany!!! He didn't just "turn up" in Roswell - he also served in Alabama, Japan and Texas!!!
  • Gerry Walsh from Melbourne, AustraliaGold !
  • Rick from New York City, NyHey yduR, Knoxville, TN...this song is a classic!
    Maybe you've to much "caning" in your life and your judgement is affected.....
  • Onnie from High Point, Nc-by Donna Pinto

    -This is an archived story from May, 1999, which originally ran on the World Family of John Denver. It is written by Donna Pinto.

    Lots of folks think the World Family of John Denver is a concept that
    came out of web pages. Fact is, the WFOJD existed 20 years before
    the computer revolution of the 90's...

    Just what is this World Family of John Denver?
    ... A few years ago, I took on the task of explaining this history and the concept for ""Hearts In Harmony"" fan club members. The following is an extensively embellished version of that six page article and a brief update...

    John's feelings about Fan Clubs
    Despite his huge popularity in the 1970's, John Denver appreciated the chairty work aspect of them fan clubs but personally did not want them organized out of his business office. When fans wrote JD about joining a club, they received a letter saying ""There are no John Denver fan clubs"". Instead, John's publicity was handled by huge public relations companies for RCA Records and to a lesser degree ABC tv. When I wrote with an inquiry, I received an autographed photo (signed by his secretary it later turned out), a biography from RCA, and the ""official"" biography. I floundered around a few years. School friends suggested, ""If you started a fan club, you might get to meet him""; but had absolutely no idea how to organize a club and no desire to try.
  • Bruce from Gainesville, GaDoes anyone know what happened to Mike Taylor? After his superb guitar work on the album "Rocky Mountain High," he was never on any other Denver recordings. Just curious!
  • Ydur from Knoxville, TnDenver was the son of a German Aviator who "turned up" in Roswell, NM just after World War II. Sounds like an "X-Files" episode... I would think even Nazis or Aliens could do better than this tripe, though. Listening to this song is like being caned by Michael Faye with a wet noodle!
  • Garry from Anchorage, AkWords by John Denver, music by John Denver, Dick Kniss and Mike Taylor. Mike Taylor collaborated with Denver on "Rocky Mountain High" and on "The Eagle and The Hawk."
  • Carlyle from Clinton, Ok"You felt the baby move JUST yesterday " belongs to the song "Back Home Again" not "Sunshine on My Shoulders" Also , John has a very real natural born daughter so how could he have been sterile. Please in respect for her and his memory RE search your facts before posting them on this website./Carlyle Williams ,songwriter,B.M.I.
  • Charles from Bronxville, NyThis is more of a song fact - The song becomes more poingnent when you listen to the line "You felt the baby move just yesterday" once you learn that John was sterile. He disclosed this in a Playboy interview.
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