“When Sunny Gets Blue” is one of the greatest Blues/Jazz songs ever written. You can sing it slow and creeping with an oozing loss, or you can snap it up and make the song fast and raspy. The lyric is especially keen — you can take it as a comment on a personality, or a conundrum of living in the sunshine when the world is dark around you:
When Sunny gets blue, her eyes get gray and cloudy,
Then the rain begins to fall, pitter-patter, pitter-patter,
Love is gone, so what can matter,
Ain’t no new lover man come to call.
Many of us probably have a Sunny or two in our lives — some versions gloomier than others, but today, I want to share a 10-second memory of a ray of sun. Her friends and co-workers call her “Sunshine” and the name fits her without a fog.
Sunshine works at a local medical office. I’ve seen her when she isn’t on guard, and there is a gloominess and haze that can overcome her, but generally, when she’s on with patients, Sunshine is a pure delight.
Her face lights up and her laughter and positive energy are appreciated and contagious. She’s young and energetic, but also wise and tempered. Sunshine knows pain and hopelessness and that makes her even brighter.
I’ve interacted with Sunshine many times over the years and each moment she’s always, completely, clear with you no matter what’s going on around her and that sort of radiating energy is rare in an ever-more shadowy world.
My most recent interaction with Sunshine was purely observational. The day was overcast and heavy and a massive snowstorm had fallen overnight. I was one of the first patients at the doctor’s office and I was seated in a corner biding my time — the doctor was late, stuck behind a traffic accident on an icy bridge — and so I watched all the workers trudge into the office from the blizzard outside.
Without fail, each worker entered, stomped the snow off their boots, and passed by the other patients and staff without saying a word. Their body language was dissociative and distancing: LEAVE ME ALONE!
Then, in a burst of energy and delight, Sunshine flew into the building to bust up your blues. She didn’t have any snow on her boots to stomp off on the carpeting. As she walked across the waiting room, she waved at the patients she knew and she bent down to pick up two stray bits of paper that were littering the floor.
On her way up from bending to the floor, she flipped her wrist and turned on the big TV so the patients could watch something other than each other. Sunny slightly twirled as she shook of her heavy coat, hooked it on the wall behind her and slid into her workstation chair — all in one, light, invisible movement in space and time.
If you were feeling down or blue before Sunshine whipped into the office, there was no way you could feel anything other than joy after witnessing that whirlwind — because energy was spread from her entire being. Even if you’re jaded and caustic, you would not have been able to resist the simple and honest charm of Sunshine. Yes, she’s just preternaturally that good — and without artifice or affectation.
Sunshine changed the oxygen around her in a 10-second sequence of unselfish events — and I secretly applauded her impressive performance. We need more Sunshines in the world!
In a final tribute of appreciation for Sunshine, here’s the incredibly talented Mel Tormé and his beautiful version of — “When Sunny Gets Blue” — his rendering is so full of joy and love and forlorn melancholia that you forget the real effect on a hard-won world: