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The Meaning of Bob Marley’s “Sun Is Shining”

Artwork created with Midjourney AI.

“Sun Is Shining” by Bob Marley & The Wailers is an uplifting, meditative gem that appeared on three separate Bob Marley & The Wailers albums. First, it appeared on 1971’s Soul Revolution, and then it reappeared on 1973’s African Herbsman.

The most popular and well-known recording of “Sun Is Shining” is the one from the 1978 album Kaya. The whole album is filled with this same kind of laid-back energy, making it one of the most easy-listening Bob Marley albums.

It makes sense, considering the title “Kaya” is Jamaican slang for marijuana. In context, it offered a break from the more politically-charged music that Marley had been known for previously.

Kaya was also released in the year that followed Bob Marley’s cancer diagnosis, which would take his life just four years later.

To me, this album represents Marley taking a break from trying to change the world, in a political sense, and instead looking for his own form of inner peace. The decision to include this song on there falls in line with that.

“Sun Is Shining” Lyrics Meaning

“Sun Is Shining” is the pinnacle of that search for inner peace. It brings us to a moment where Marley has found it, and the lyrics are all about this worldly form of acceptance.

Let’s take a closer look, starting with the opening pre-chorus:

Sun is shining, the weather is sweet
Make you want to move your dancing feet
To the rescue, here I am
Want you to know, you all, where I stand

Pre-chorus to “Sun Is Shining” by Bob Marley.

Marley expresses his gratitude for the sunshine. When he sings, “To the rescue, here I am,” he is assuming the perspective of the sun, rising to save the world from darkness.

In the chorus, he portrays the passing of time through the image of the rising sun:

(Monday morning) here I am
Want you to know just if you can
(Tuesday evening) where I stand
(Wednesday morning) Tell myself a new day is rising
(Thursday evening) get on the rise
A new day is dawning
(Friday morning) here I am
(Saturday evening) want you to know just
Want you to know just where I stand

Chorus to “Sun Is Shining” by Bob Marley.

Marley sings about both himself and the sun here, rising and going through each new day. His repetition of wanting others to know where he stands is a form of acceptance and a desire to be straightforward with the people in his life.

Artwork created with Midjourney AI.

This places value on being honest with yourself and with others, which is the core message of the song.

Next we have the first verse:

When the morning gathers the rainbow
Want you to know I’m a rainbow too
So to the rescue, here I am
Want you to know just if you can
Where I stand, know, know, know, know, know, know, know, know

First verse to “Sun Is Shining” by Bob Marley.

Referring to himself as a rainbow, Marley presents himself as a symbol of unity. The image of a rainbow in the morning represents a positive new beginning.

Since Marley sings of the cyclical nature of time and sunshine, he posits that each morning presents us with the opportunity to start fresh.

For this, he sings, “We’ll lift our heads and give Jah praises.”

Another cycle of the pre-chorus and chorus follow, and then Marley sings the second and final verse:

To the rescue, to the rescue
To the rescue, to the rescue
Awake from your sleep and slumber
Today could bring your lucky number

Second verse to “Sun Is Shining” by Bob Marley.

Again, he says that the new day has come to save the people. He encourages listeners to get up and seize the opportunity that’s before them, because today could be their lucky day.

This can be taken literally, meaning that he wants people to actually go outside and feel the sunshine. It could also be more figurative, encouraging listeners to take action in the world, rather than passively observing.


“Sun Is Shining” is a timeless anthem that encapsulates Bob Marley’s multifaceted artistry. More than just a feel-good tune, it serves as a meditative guide, encouraging both personal introspection and worldly awareness.

Amidst the backdrop of Kaya’s laid-back vibe and the darker clouds of Marley’s cancer diagnosis, the song stands as a powerful statement of resilience and acceptance.

Whether the sun is rising in the morning sky or setting after a day of hard work, “Sun Is Shining” reminds us that each day offers a fresh chance to find your peace, take a stand, and live authentically.

Enjoy the 1978 Kaya version of “Sun Is Shining” below. I’ve also included the original 1971 recording, and a modern pop remix featuring Robin Shulz that dropped in 2020. Which version is your favorite?

Bob Marley & The Wailers – “Sun Is Shining” (1978)

Bob Marley – “Sun Is Shining” (1971)

Bob Marley – “Sun Is Shining” ft. Robin Shulz (2020)