Wrestling With The Angel, Chapter 6

Joe Keone was a trumpet player and, as I remember it, like me, a Music Education major at the University of New Hampshire in the 1970’s.

During the course of our college-days friendship, Joe introduced me to one of his favorite songs: “When Sunny Gets Blue.” Being always interested in learning a new song, I asked if he could get me a copy of the sheet music for it, and he did. Here’s page 1.

When Sunny Gets 2

Joe was right. “When Sunny Gets Blue” is an extraordinary song. It has wonderfully well-crafted lyrics, a sublime and superbly-singable melody and the kind of complex, constantly-shifting yet, in the end, totally-logical chord progression that I find to be so much fun to play on the guitar. 

Once I learned to play and sing it – and I have most enjoyably continued to play and sing it ever since – Joe and I got together and worked out a trumpet/guitar/vocal arrangement that we were both quite happy with. I was playing at The Loaf & Ladle in Exeter at the time and I invited Joe to come down and sit in one night. I don’t recall the audience’s response, but I can still picture Joe sporting a wide and satisfied smile as we wrapped up our rendition of “When Sunny Gets Blue.”

As the sheet music informs, “When Sunny Gets Blue” was copyrighted in 1956. The lyrics were written by Jack Segal, the music composed by Marvin Fisher.

Jack Segal (1918-2005) was born in Minneapolis, MN and is best known for writing the lyrics to the 1949 song “Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair).” With music by Evelyn Danzig, “Scarlet Ribbons” was a huge hit for Harry Belafonte in 1952.

Marvin Fisher (1916-1993) was born in New York, NY; the son of Fred Fisher, a Tin Pan Alley songwriter. Among the better known songs that Marvin wrote the music for were: “Destination Moon” and “That’s The Kind Of Girl I Dream Of.”

“When Sunny Gets Blue” was first recorded by vocalist Nat King Cole (1917-1965) in 1956. With an orchestral accompaniment arranged by Gordon Jenkins, “When Sunny Gets Blue” was included on Mr. Cole’s album Love Is The Thing.

Here it is.

I hope you enjoyed that.

Thanks, Joe. 

“When Sunny Gets Blue” has been recorded by many, many artists including several instrumentalists who forgo the lyrics and let Marvin Fisher’s melody tell the tale all by itself. A little searching on YouTube and/or iTunes will provide many fabulous versions well worth your time.

Let me know what you find!

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