Tunesday: June Carter Cash – “Keep On The Sunny Side”

Our June Tunesday theme is *a duh de duh duhhh* pure unadulterated happy songs. 

What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.
– Gertrude Jekyll

Well, since everybody here at I Listen I Watch is writing about happy songs for the month of June I thought I’d pick one too. For me there is no song or artist that I think fits this category any better than June Carter Cash performing “Keep On The Sunny Side.” To begin with, this is a very happy hymn about being happy and it makes you feel happy when you hear it or sing it. The song “Keep On The Sunny Side Of Life” was written in 1899 by Ada Blenkhorn who was inspired to write the song after hearing something her nephew would often say to her. Her nephew, who was disabled, would ask her to push him in his wheelchair down “the sunny side” of the street. So, the song even comes from a happy place as the time she spent with her nephew made her write this happy song.

Keep On The Sunny Side - sheet music [1902]

Since that time the song has gone on to become a standard. For years it was mainly known as a hymn performed in church services after being published in hymnal. In 1928, the Carter Family recorded their version of the song (arranged by A.P. Carter and retitled “Keep On The Sunny Side”) and had a huge hit with it eventually making it their theme song. The Carters performed the song often and eventually began performing it with Johnny Cash. The Carters and Cash also recorded an album in 1964 entitled Keep On The Sunny Side. Johnny and June married and in 1974, and they recorded the song together on Johnny’s album The Junkie and the Juicehead Minus Me. Then in 2003 Johnny and June performed the song one last time recording it for June’s final album Wildwood Flower. The song then acted as a happy memorial to the Carter-Cash family when that year Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash and her daughter Rosie Nix Adams all died within a five month period. They were all three buried in the Hendersonville Memory Gardens in Hendersonville, Tennessee. When Wildwood Flower was released after Johnny and June’s deaths, “Keep On The Sunny Side” became a reminder that even though “there’s a dark and a troubled side of life, there’s a bright and a sunny side, too.”

Coincidentally, today, June 23 would have been June Carter’s 86th birthday. So, to celebrate the life and career of June Carter, and just to hear a happy song, listen to “Keep On The Sunny Side.” Remember that it will help you every day and it will brighten all the way if you keep on the sunny side of life.

Read more from Jason here.