Children’s songs can be depressing, really. It seems strange to lull small children to sleep with songs about babies falling from treetops, or have them sing about ashes and then play dead. But one of the most memorable and haunting lullabies speaks to a more viable fear―one of long-lost loves and stolen sunshine. It’s a song that inspired a fun-lovin’ spinoff nearly a decade ago, and now, something more sentimental.
Justin Ewart sent us his own version of “You Are My Sunshine” on Saturday (as he also did to BlogTO). A webdesigner by day, and singer/songwriter-director/editor-actor-artist-writer-philosopher-astrologer when he can spare a minute (take that, J-Lo!), Justin took his time―three years, no less―in putting together his own sunshine song, and from what we can tell, the results are certainly worthwhile. It reminds us of a post-PostSecret project, with picked-at-random participants displaying the name of their own personal sunshine for all of Toronto to see. It’s a happy, heart-warming mishmash of bunnies, rainbows, love, happiness, and um, “Jigs.” Hey, we don’t judge.
Justin says the song first struck him when his high-school girlfriend stuck the lyrics in his locker after a breakup, and for a while he was singing the song only to himself. The idea for the video came later, while he was meditating at a Buddhist centre in the city. After finding a director via Craigslist, he took to the streets, picking up random yet willing people to star in his clip. “It took five days of me and whatever friend I could sweet talk into coming with me that day jumping around town with signs that said, ‘Want to be in a music video?'” he told us by email yesterday. “We would take whoever came up to us or who we could start random conversations with. Almost everyone we shot ended up in the video.” Though other projects, procrastination, and publishing rights delayed the release a few years past its summer of ’06 shoot date, the message remains the same. Justin describes playing music, for him, as all about “vulnerability and connect[ion]”―this was simply an outlet for sharing that sentiment with everybody else (including the, er, less musically gifted).
We think we already know what we’ve learned from the video. Laughter, smiles, good stories, and “toe” equal sunshine. But for Justin? Maybe something a little more.
“From a film-making point of view it was really valuable to just get out there and shoot and learn how to pull the edit together. But more than that, I learned something I have been learning in stages my whole life, which is that none of us are so different, really. We all need love and connection, and even in this big city that can feel so cold at times, there are a lot of good-hearted people out there. You just maybe need to be the one to break the ice.”