Educating Peter # 40

March 24, 2013

This week’s suggestion is a song I have no knowledge of. (Which isn’t all that startling. I have no knowledge of thousands of songs.)

This week Michael has suggested The Heartbeats’ “The Sun Won’t Shine”.

According to a few web pages (such as this and this and this and this), The Heartbeats were a band from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and the 7″ single of “The Sun Won’t Shine” (with “She Won’t Talk” as the B-side) was the only thing they ever released.

Knowing absolutely nothing about the band or the song, the very first thing I thought of when I saw what Michael had sent me was this:

But when I learned more about The Heartbeats I thought to myself “I don’t think the song by The Heartbeats is going to sound much like that portentous Walker Brothers song.”

Well, I hope not.

The Heartbeats – “The Sun Won’t Shine” (1984)


0:00-0:07 – This is a very pleasant way to start a pop song. To me, this is the sound of The Shadows as a skinny-tie band.

0:07-0:15 – And a very pleasant tune to begin the verse.

This is nice.

Incidentally, although I’m finding this all very pleasant, the singer sounds a little nervous to me (e.g., 0:12-0:15).

Hmm. I have a nagging feeling that I’ve heard the verse’s principal melody (0:07-0:11, “Watch that smile, if you’re going out…”) somewhere before.

0:15-0:19 – This bit of the verse is very Marshall Crenshaw. Yum.

(Note to self: Stop using the word “very” so much. It’s very annoying to the reader.)

0:19-0:22 – The rest of the verse before the chorus, and I found it the least interesting part of the verse. Ah well.

0:22-0:37 – OK. Here’s the chorus. And it sounds like it belongs in a country song. I really want this to be in a country song. All it needs is some pedal steel, maybe a bit of banjo here and there, and I’ll be going “Oh yeah, this is a nice country song”.

Here’s another “incidentally”, but incidentally… the melody from 0:25-0:27 (“Again there’s always rain in my world”) sounds familiar to me. Have I heard that somewhere else?

Oh yeah. That twangin’ guitar (0:36-0:37) leading into the next verse sound very country to me. Excellent.

0:37-0:52 – Half a verse this time. And the singer still sounds nervous. (He overcompensates a little by trying to sound ultra-confident with the word “talk” at 0:38-0:39.)

0:52-1:05 – Another chorus. (0:57-0:58 – country!)

1:05-1:09 – Songwritingly speaking, this is a dreadful transition from the chorus to the middle eight.

(Sorry about technical talk coming up.)

There was no attempt at modulation of any sort, which resulted in a harmonic clash directly after the chorus. (Or, as young people like to say: “Awk-ward…”.) The last three chords leading into the middle eight (A major – A major 7 – A7) were nice, but when the chorus is in the key of B major the band’s sudden shift into to key of A major was jarring to me. And what made it worse was…

1:09-1:21 – The middle eight is in the key of F major. Taken on its own, I enjoyed the middle eight (with jazzy chords here and there), but…

(Sorry about the technical talk again.)

Harmonically, the middle of this song is a mess.

And the chords chosen at 1:20-1:21 to lead the middle eight into the guitar solo are even worse.

1:21-1:36 – Now that the songwriting nightmare of the previous 15 seconds is behind me, I can focus on the guitar solo.

I like the guitar solo. It’s rudimentary and not ostentatious at all. But it’s twangy. Country!

1:36-2:06 – A double chorus. With a great country guitar fill (1:43-1:44). I like the lead guitarist.

2:06-2:24 – Another double chorus. We’re on the home stretch, folks.

I liked how the singer finally broke out of the melody at 2:07-2:10 and added a few extra notes. (It immediately reminded me of the end of The Beatles’ “I Want To Tell You”, when Paul warbled away as the song started fading out.)

And the guitarist is making himself even more likeable by throwing in some country guitar fills (2:09-2:11). Then he plays some nice little melodies as the song fades (2:15-2:24). Lovely.


Thanks, Michael. I liked your suggestion this week.