Sunny Came Home, by Shawn Colvin

Keeping to my promise, I wrote my ananlysis of the song soon after I put up the lyrics. I highly reccomend reading the analysis to anyone who likes this song. I got a very different idea from Shawn Colvin's hit than I think most people did. Generally it's regarded as being about insane pyromaniacs (actually I kinda like that idea, heh, heh!), but it made me think of sexism and discrimination. I actually think it's about both, on two different levels, and sort of combined. Anyway, enough blabbering, if you like the song, you probably skipped this introduction, anyway. So, read on!

Sunny came home
   to her favorite room.
Sunny sat down
   in the kitchen.
She opened a book
   and a box of tools
Sunny came home
   with a mission.

She says, "Days go by,
   I'm hypnotized,
I'm walking on a wire.
I close my eyes,
   and fly out of
   my mind, into the fire."

Sunny came home
   with list of names.
She didn't believe
   in transcendence. 
"It's time for a few
   small repairs," she said.
Sunny came home
   with a vengeance.

She says, "Days go by,
   I don't know why.
I'm walking on a wire.
I close my eyes,
   and fly out of
   my mind, into the fire."
Get the kids, and
bring a sweater.
Dry is good, but
wind is better.
Count the years, you
alwys knew it.
Strike a match, go
on and do it.

Oh, days go by,
   and hypnotize.
I'm walking on
   a wire!
I close my eyes, and
   fly out of,
   my mind, into the fire.
Oh, light the sky,
   and hold on tight.
The world is
   burning down.
She's out there, on
   her own, and she's
   all right!

Sunny came home.

Sunny came home.

Sunny came home.

"Sunny Came Home" could be interpreted in many different ways. I think many people think it's about a crazy pyromaniac. That's possible. But when I really thoguht about the words, and started writing, I got a totally different idea, which had vaguely been in the back of my mind every time I listened to the song. However, I never fully thought about the idea until I wrote this analysis. By the way, this is my own interpretation, and it's not official or anything, so you can't sue me if Shawn Colvin says that's not what the song is about. However, I can sue you if you use this analysis and say it's your exact interpretation. So hah!

The song is about sexism, and women's place in society. Sunny is a woman who represents sexism--the good and the bad. The whole song is one giant metaphor in that sense, and all because the actions Sunny do represent something symbolic. There are a lot of symbols and figurative language in the song.

"Sunny came home/to her favorite room/Sunny sat down/in the kitchen." Sunny's favorite room is the kitchen, or at least it's supposed to be. A woman's place is in the kitchen--this is where she's at "home"--cooking meals and clenaing. But--"She opened a book/and a box of tools/Sunny came home/with a mission." Instead of cooking or cleaning, Sunny started reading a book to be educated, and opened a box of tools to do hard, dirty labor with! What? That's supposed to be a man's job! Or at least it was! She cam ehome with a mission. Obviously she'd been someplace else--out in the world learning--so when she came home it was her mssion to stop sexism and help women rise in power they're expected to have at home.

"She says, 'Days go by/I'm hypnotized/I'm walking on a wire." Sunny says that the days are hypnotizing her--she's confused, in a daze, which sounds the same as the word "days" used, something I'm sure Shawn Colvin did intentionally. sunny doesn't know what to do as the hypnotizing days go by. She's in a trance doing one thing or another. She's walking on a wire because if she's not perfectly balanced she'll slip and go to on extreme or the other. If men and women aren't treated equally, then one group will keep rising in power and blocking out the the other one. " 'I close my eyes/ and fly out of/my mind, into the fire.' " This is very symbollic. Sunny might physically close her eyes, but she's imagining she flies out of her mind. She lets go of her thoughs and wanders "into the fire." The fire symbolizes a place or state of being where nothing matters--all is lost and devoured equally. Her mind wanders into the fire where she can momentarily relax--everyone is equal.

"Sunny came home/with a list of names/she didn't believe/in transcendence." When she came home from the cruel world, she'd developed a list of names--mayb enot physical, but in her mind. She didn't believe in transendence--a state where something or something is superior to surpassing, above and beyond, more important than, another. Obviously, the list was a list of men who thought that they transcend women--that they were above women. These were sexist men who Sunny aquired a list of. " 'It's time for a few/small repars,' she said/Sunny came home/with a vengeance." That comment is a negative hyperbole--an understatement. She thought that those men were really wrong. So she had to "fix" them, by hurting them or making them see her view; it doesn't really matter what happens to them as long as it goes acording to the story of the song. She had avengeance--she was getting revenge on sexist men, and sexist people in general, when she "repaired" them.

Then the chorus is repeated, but it says, "...Days go by/I don't know why." This emphasis the passage of time. The world used to be very sexist against women, but now it's not as much. Sunny doesn't know why--no one controls time, and she' sstill confused abou tall the rapid change.

"Get the kids and/bring a sweater." This is the typical thing a woman in a sexist society/household would/is supposed to do. She has to remember to take the kids wherever they need to go (the woman is the caretaker), and the mother also brings an extra sweater just in case it rains or gets cold; this symbolizes extra worries that are often placed on women. "Dry is good but/wind is better." Continuing the stereotypical situation, dry is good--the mother is hoping wherever she's going with her kids it will be nice and not rain. But, what's this--wind is better?! Whoa, this is different--wind--the winds of change! Wind is a metaphor and symbol for something different. No sexism. It's sort of the main time, the turning point, where it says that sexism is bad and Sunny's ideals are better. Possibly that's why this verse is sung in a different tune than the rest of the song and the chorus. "Count the years you/always knew it/Strike a match go/on and do it.!" Those first two lines aren't extremely symbolic; it's pretty easy to see what they mean. A command to count the years, or, basically Sunny (re: all women, whom Sunny also represents) counting the years down, waiting for sexism to go away, and counting the years it's been around and taken. She always knew it existed and she knew it would eventually go away. And finally, strike a match and do it! Motivate yourself! Go ahead--strike a match for a spark of change--start the fire making everyone equal! This is saying to all women, "Be the one to start the change and stop sexism. Everyone should be apart of it--even men--that's why it's given as a command to all listeners besides the fact that it makes it fit the rythm.)

The chorus is repeated but this time is says, "...Days go by and hypnotize." This is continuing in the trend set by the last verse, the turning point verse, that days hypnotize everyone; it's not just one person, not just Sunny/women who are dazed. The change effects everyone; sexism and discrimination effect everyone. But then there's an addition to the chorus, "Oh, light the sky/and hold on tight!/The world is burning down!" "Light the sky" emphacizes to set everything on fire--make everything equal. The sky covers the whole world, an dlighting it menas setting it, or the world, on fire symbollically (remember, fire=equal). Hold on tight--brace yourself and get ready for anything after you light the sky, because the world's burning down. Everything is totally changing when this occurs. In the process of everything becoming equal, the fire is ruining what that already exists (old, traditional sexist standards/ideals). There's chaos and havoc and destruction. There's a lot of chaos when sexism is going away--groups of people protesting, and some men and some women getting angry and going too far with there actions. This is what is happening, or is starting to happen, now, and what will happen in the future if and when sexism and discrimination dissipates. The emphasis in the last half of the song on everyone/thing/the world indicates all discrimination and bias, not just sexism; but sexism is mainly used since that's probably the most common type of discrimination and bigotry. It's been around since the beginning of time, even in different races/religions, etc. Finally, "She's out there on/her own and she's/all right!" "She" means Sunny, and all womankind, if you will, and "out there" just means in the world. She came home from the world, to new revelations from the world about herself, and now she's going back; she's staying in the world and likes the change. This last line means that now the world isn't as sexist. Now women go out and are successful; they're doing fine--they're good at what they do, just as good as me! And if they're not doing anything, they should be. All minorities are as good as their majority counterpart, and descrimination should end; we've seen minorities rise to power and do great; this proves any human is just as good as the next one. And then the line "Sunny came home," is repeated three times, to make a dramatic and memorable ending.

After going over the meaning line by line, I think there are two major ideas anyone should be aware of about this song. First, the song opens and ends with the line "Sunny came home." The first time it's sung, however, it's saying Sunny came home to a stereotypical, sexist place, the kitchen, to do some stereotypical thing like cooking or cleaning (in) her favorite room where she belongs. The final time you hear those words, at the very end, it signifies that Sunny came home to the real world where she was succeeding. That's where she belongs. That's where everyone, all groups/people discriminated against, belong. The whole song shows the passing of time and the progression of women/minorities in society; you can tell there's change by the opposite meanings of the same three words at the beginning and end. The second observation on the song is that of Sunny's name. I spell it with a "u" as the vowel. I think that's how it's supposed to be. That sounds like a nice, cheery girl's name of a happy woman. When you think of the sun, you think of happy summertime, etc. But it sounds like "Sonny," a term used when a wise person addresses a younger male. So the metaphorical character represents a male also. This is giving the idea of change and no discrimination to the discriminators/males, as well. The young people (a sonny-boy) are the ones that cause or change. Society needs to make children aware of bigotry, and its negative effects. Finally, on a side-note about the name, it obviously continues the image of fire, indicating fairness and equality also.

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