Tunes on Tuesday: When Sunny Gets Blue

Why this tune?

What do you play when someone asks you to “play us a song?” For me, one of the first tunes I think of is “When Sunny Gets Blue,” a pop ballad by Marvin Fisher and Jack Segal and from 1956 that has become a jazz standard. It’s one of the first songs I learned by heart. Perhaps my long-time attachment to this tune goes back to my teen years, when I heard McCoy Tyner’s recording from the early 1960’s on one of the first jazz records I owned.

Dig this detail!

There are possibly more instrumental recordings of the song than vocal ones, showing the power of Fisher’s melody. The lyrics, though, deserve more attention. Segal crafted a sad story of lost love with plenty of creative images. The second verse is particularly lovely:

When Sunny gets blue
She breaths a sigh of sadness 
Like the wind that stirs the trees 
Wind that sets the leaves to swaying 
Like some violin is playing strange and haunting melodies

Hear the story

Check it out!

My version of “When Sunny Gets Blue”

McCoy Tyner, 1963

Nancy Wilson

Published by Oren Levine

Jazz pianist and composer in Washington, DC. Also a digital product and technology professional working at a small DC nonprofit

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