Friday, March 30, 2012

The Soul Corner - "Sunny" by Bobby Hebb

Perhaps the highest compliment a song can receive is being recorded by others. So what does it say if a song has been covered by more than 100 artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Nick Cave, and um, Leonard Nimoy?
In case, you need to be introduced to this all-time classic, here's Bobby Hebb singing "Sunny":

Hebb wrote the song shortly after November 22, 1963 in response to his older brother being murdered in Nashville on the same day JFK was assassinated. Hebb was looking to ease his own pain, trying to somehow create a brighter day.

The song was not recorded by Hebb and released until 1966, at which time it garnered so much respect that the Beatles tabbed Hebb to be the opening act on their 1966 American tour.

As many times as I've heard it, I never cease to be amazed at the clarity of this vocal and composition. Like "My Girl", it sounds so simple and yet has so much going for it, you can't tire of it. Truly perfect. And even with this all star roster of artists who recorded their own versions, some among the best singers of all time, no one ever took this song away from Bobby Hebb, his version remaining by far the best known.

I do like this slowed down version from 1967, however, by a guy who was a pretty good singer in his own right, backed here by no less than the Duke Ellington band:

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