"Sun Arise" is the fourth single released by the Australian singer-songwriter Rolf Harris. Released in January 1961 in Australia and October 1962 in the UK, it was Harris' third charting hit in Australia (following "The Big Black Hat" in 1960) and second in the UK (following "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" also 1960). Unlike many of his early chart hits, "Sun Arise" was not a comedy record, but came within the genre of world music with its didgeridoo inspired music.
Production and lyrics
After the success of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down" Harris assumed that his future records would be automatically released in the United Kingdom by his label EMI Records. EMI however were not so sure and directed him to George Martin, then known for producing some of the more off the wall records of the time. Martin initially called the recording "very boring" which Harris countered by saying that the Aborigines, who he was trying to imitate would "repeat a phrase over and over again and it would become mesmerising". The song was re-written with slightly more lyrics and recorded using eight double basses to mimic the didgeridoo which Harris could not play at the time.
The song's lyrical structure is simple with the vast majority of the lines starting simply "Sun Arise". The lyrics of the song came from a story Butler told him about Aboriginal beliefs. Some tribes see the sun as a goddess. Each time she wakes in the morning, her skirts of light gradually cover more and more of the land, bringing back warmth and light to the air. The only explicit reference to anything Australian in the song is the mention of the Kangaroo Paw flower, which is endemic to Western Australia.
The track was Harris' second top ten hit in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at no. 3. It was also his first hit in the United States, at #61 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also reached #61 in his native Australia and #98 on re-release in 1963. Thirty-five years after originally charting in the UK, the song (albeit in a re-recorded version) re-entered the charts in October 1997, reaching no. 26.
- Information on the song
- Medd, James: "Lessons learnt in the music business by Rolf Harris" from 'The Word Magazine' August 10, 2010
- Harris, Rolf: "Can You Tell Me What It Is Yet?" Bantam Press, London, 2001
- Song Lyrics
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 244. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Harris' UK chart performances