Gale Garnett, The Summer of Love and “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine”

A strange week where I am having a few days off work in order to do all sorts of practical housey-type chores but instead have done everything but. When you are a student and have exams you will do all manner of things rather that buckle down to studying (even flat-cleaning) and now at my age, rather than clear out the loft, do a spot of emulsioning and rake up some leaves, I keep being drawn back to WordPress, Blogspot, my Gmail account, YouTube and Wiki. It is a disaster of the highest order but all too easy to let happen it seems!


So, what have I been thinking about this week musically? By chance, a really lovely song has come into my life and although not really an earworm (which I have discovered is a calque from the German ohrwurm) I have played it so often now that it is starting to reach the point of over-familiarity – Will have to stop now.

We’ll Sing in the Sunshine was a song both written and recorded by Gale Garnett in 1964 and was a big hit in the US that year. It also won the Grammy Award for “Best Traditional Folk Recording” in 1965 but for some reason it had never been on my radar before, despite having been recorded by just about everyone – Dean Martin, the Fleetwoods, Bobby Bare, Skeeter Davis, Sonny & Cher, Wanda Jackson, Susan Maughan and Dolly Parton. This week I have become both smitten, and troubled by it.

We’ll Sing in The Sunshine – Gale Garnett:

First of all this song has a beautiful harmonica intro which gives it a sweet folksy vibe and then there is also the great hook which has been lodged in my brain all week. That is the smitten part. When I listen to the lyrics properly however I just get really sad:

We’ll sing in the sunshine
We’ll laugh every da-a-y
We’ll sing in the sunshine
Then I’ll be on my way

How awful to have this wonderful year of laughing and singing and sunshine, only to walk away. It is hard enough in life to get one soupçon of that feeling, so why on earth would you then want to walk away? This is where I become troubled – When Gale wrote this song was it just a bit of silly lyric writing that didn’t really make any sense (from the Mike Batt/Katie Melua school of song-writing) or is she making a big philosophical statement about life? Did she just have commitment issues or was she talking about how rubbish it is to have this wonderful life but then get old and die? Not sure, but makes me sad – A touch of the old “mortality reality check” which has been happening a lot this year because of the sheer number of departures from the world of music.


I have written before about how I keep coming back to the music of the mid to late ’60s in this blog for all sorts of reasons, but possibly one is that I was simply born about a decade too late. Spiritually I think I would have been a flower child. Although this song was from 1964, the video clip above has been put together by someone who obviously associated the lyrics with the hippy movement and perhaps 1967’s Summer of Love, before it all started going a bit wrong.

Gale Garnett herself was actually born in Auckland, New Zealand, and moved to Canada with her family when she was 11. She made her public singing debut in 1960, but managed to have a parallel career in acting making many appearances on television shows and films. By the late ’60s she too had begun to be more influenced by the counter-culture and recorded several albums of psychedelic-inflected music with The Gentle Reign.

So, “What’s It All About?” – As Alfie discovered, at the end of the day it’s all about love, and if you do find someone you want to sing with in the sunshine, walk with in the sunshine, laugh with in the sunshine, ignore Ms Garnett’s silly lyrics and please, please don’t walk away. Maybe it’s just because I’m an old romantic (who doesn’t have commitment issues) but I think you are possibly one of the lucky ones!

We’ll Sing In The Sunshine Lyrics
(Song by Gale Garnett)

We’ll sing in the sunshine
We’ll laugh every da-a-y
We’ll sing in the sunshine
Then I’ll be on my way

I will never love you
The cost of love’s too dear
But though I’ll never love you
I’ll stay with you one year

And we can sing in the sunshine
We’ll laugh every da-a-y
We’ll sing in the sunshine
Then I’ll be on my way

I’ll sing to you each mornin’
I’ll kiss you every night
But darlin’, don’t cling to me
I’ll soon be out of sight

But we can sing in the sunshine
We’ll laugh every da-a-y
We’ll sing in the sunshine
Then I’ll be on my way

My daddy he once told me
“Hey, don’t you love you any man”
“Just take what they may give you”
“And give but what you can”

“And you can sing in the sunshine”
“You’ll laugh every da-a-y”
“You’ll sing in the sunshine”
“Then be on your way”

And when our year has ended
And I have gone away
You’ll often speak about me
And this is what you’ll say

“We sang in the sunshine
“You know, we laughed every da-a-y”
“We sang in the sunshine”
“Then she went away”

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

16 thoughts on “Gale Garnett, The Summer of Love and “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine””

  1. I’m wondering if she just has commitment phobia!
    The song is not my cup of tea I’m afraid (although I agree very much an earworm!) , but she does have a lovely voice – and a great name!
    I know just what you mean about not getting things done. I still suffer from it too – I’m self-employed and have to work to deadlines all the time and usually seven days a week, but when it comes to the final most important part of each project, even though I love what I do, I struggle with the getting started bit psychologically and invariably find the ironing and hoovering suddenly becomes terribly appealing. Why is that? It’s a strange one! As for being distracted by blogging though, that’s very understandable!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi C – Yes, not everyone’s cup of tea this one but staying true to my principles of writing about the song that has become an earworm during the current week (very catchy hook). The commitment phobia does sound like a possibility but my thinking is that no-one would enter into a relationship in the first place with someone who time-limits it to a year – She’s really not thought it through but the lyrics scanned well for the music and she no doubt made lots of money from it so good for her.

      I suspect from what you write that my husband does a similar creative job to you – I however am supposed to be the practical one who organises the business side of what he does. Sadly blogging about music on WordPress has been more addictive this year than spending time on his virtual presence so my bad. Trying to think of a way of combining the two for next year which you seem to do quite well – a good balance.


  2. Not heard this one for a long time. Didn’t think I knew it at all till I played the video… then it came flooding back.

    I often think I was born too late. I was 16 in 1988, a truly terrible year for music (hence Jason D.)… I always wished I’d been a ternager in the 50s, for the birth of rock n roll. After this year, and the way the world is turning, I’m wishing that more and more…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t think many people are too keen on this kind of stuff but I am smitten. I am just in the process of writing my 100th post (a landmark) and the song I’m going to feature very much reflects the fact that I think I was born too late. If we feel like that what is it going to be like for our kids – thank goodness for music!


  3. I was watching a rerun of “Have Gun Wil Travel” and as I sometimes do I googled an actor, Gale Garnett, which brought me to your site.
    I remember when this song first came out ( We’ll Sing In The Sunshine ). I remember crusing around singing the lyrics but being somewhat perplexed by them for the same reasons you expressed. Being young I just enjoyed the song and left it there. After reading your blog and giving it more thought from this side of life I can offer this slant on the meaning or possible insight behind the lyrics. Being a person with some insecurities not wanting to expose their true inner self but being bold enough to “stay with you one year”. As well as being concerned about their facade or how she’ll be remembered “you’ll often speak about me and this is what you’ll say……”
    That’s it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Walt – Thanks for dropping by. Always nice to have a new visitor. Yes I’m a bit of an old romantic and I couldn’t understand these lyrics at all. If is was all so wonderful why would you walk away? A previous visitor suspected she had commitment phobia which does sound likely and you are suggesting she has insecurites and doesn’t want to expose her true self which is also likely. Sometimes however a songwriter just puts together some lyrics that work well with the melody and that could be true as well – We will never know! Lovely to listen to though.


  4. I always LIKED this song and later associated it with the 1968 movie, Sweet November with Sandy Dennis and Anthony Newley, where she has a terminal disease and (in the sweet, naïve spirit of films then) had a new man stay with her each month, then move out, so she would be Remembered. Otherwise I took it as an early Feminist leaning, to enjoy life and love as we men liked to do! Sans immediate commitments for the long term!! Stick around for now, Pal ! But when it’s over…it’s Over!!


    1. Thanks for dropping by – Don’t know that film but from what you’ve said about the plot, I can see how it makes you think of Gale’s song. Very much of it’s time, in spirit, as you say.

      Could be early feminist leanings but as I think I said in this post (from a good while ago now), not an easy thing to do in real life once emotions get involved. I know I wouldn’t have been able to have this wonderful year with someone then simply walk away at the end. Found it sad to listen to, but also liked it, as is wont to happen with such fodder. Bit before my time so a new artist I had never heard of before.


      1. I’ve never taken the “one year” in this song too literally.

        The message I take is that all good things must come to an end, be it in a year, ten years or a lifetime. So we have to appreciate what we have, to “sing in the sunshine”, while we can.

        One other observation is that the song is left open-ended. Perhaps after the year had come and gone, she fell in love despite herself, and they kept on singing and laughing every day for a lifetime. Who knows?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for dropping by – Yes, this post was written quite some time ago and you are right, I was probably taking it a bit too literally. Still makes me sad however as I hate that phrase “all good things must come to an end”, but inevitably they do in all things in life.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Gale and The Gentle Reign came along during a transitional time in American music…there were almost no female-led popular music groups, no female-led groups with male members and even fewer solo females who would sing a lyric as proto-feminist as this one, nor adapt themselves to the Curt Boettecher area of avant-folk. Gale did that. Interesting to read how many of your commenters led with a diversion (not my cup of tea, etc.) but who still had a say. I don’t know if you ever listened to any of her albums, but she had a real artists’ progression, from pop-folk singer to folk singer to psychedelic group leader (before Janis Joplin but after Goldie and the Gingerbreads) to pop singer again. As an aside, I also have the “freefall” where a song from the past will come out and sometimes take over my day, week or longer as a theme. Wonder if all this has a separate meaning? Right now it’s “Complicated” byThe Rolling Stones from their Between The Buttons album…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Norman – Thanks for dropping by with your knowledge of Gale’s music. This post was written years ago now and I had never heard of Gale or her song before but it was a catchy little thing and I became quite smitten by it.

      As for the commenters who said it wasn’t their cup of tea we all have a circle of regular followers and although they might not always approve of the song choice, they tend to drop by and leave their thoughts.

      Hadn’t heard of a “freefall” before but a good description – They can follow you for days!


  6. This song came to mind in December, 2018 during a very dark and painful time in my life. I was in Japan at the time when my mother called to let me know that the lingering cough she had been experiencing for over a month turned out to be stage 4 lung cancer (she never smoked, and never had any other symptoms). I felt so helpless being so far away from her (she lived in Michigan) and all I could do at that moment was go out for a walk. You described the “beautiful harmonica” that accompanies this song throughout and that’s precisely what came to mind while I was walking; the achy, sweet harmonica melody from a song that I otherwise hadn’t given much thought to for some years prior. The song describes an ephemerality to our experiences; of life, and love and laughter. Gale Garnett warns us quite early in the song that time together is limited and isn’t that really just a commentary on life, itself? My mother passed away just four months later and I miss her every day.

    Thank you for spotlighting this song.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for dropping by John with the story of how this song became connected to a tough time in your life. That harmonica part does sound very sad and doleful so I can imagine how it came to mind. I’m so sorry to hear of the sad loss of your mother and yes you will still miss her every day. (My dad passed away in 2003 and I still miss him every day.)

      I like your word, ephemerality, as it does seems apt when applied to the song. When I first came across it I took it at face value, and just thought it was sad that the girl had this wonderful year of laughing and singing but then walked away. It’s obvious from the many comments that have now been left on this post that there is a lot more to the lyrics – An observation that all things in life have ‘their time’ and we must enjoy them whilst we have the chance. Same with people, we must enjoy every little bit of time we have with them as one day they will no longer be there. For such a simple song, it has certainly made us all think.


  7. Interestingly, she wrote this when she was 20-years old,for her boyfriend to record, not herself. He was a recently-divorced professional musician, anywhere from four years to nine years her senior. It’s totally from the male perspective. He didn’t make a hit with it, so she recorded her own version, reimagining it from a more-sensitive female perspective, and the rest is history!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for dropping by with this most illuminating piece of information Stuart. It now makes a lot more sense if written from the male perspective, and for someone who is probably still smarting from the breakdown of his own relationship, not wanting to commit again for some time. I like the song but it never rang true for me it being sung from the female perspective – Now it makes a lot more sense!


I'd Love To Hear From You And I Always Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: