“Soulshine”

“Soulshine”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Warren Haynes
“Soulshine”

Written by Warren Haynes
Recorded by The Allman Brothers Band

I had just moved to Nashville and was going through a rough patch financially and trying to adjust to a new environment. I had not made lots of friends there yet and was in the midst of serious life changes, which happens when you make a leap like that. Everyone gets that way sometimes and has to get through it.

This is the only time I can remember that I wrote a song like this. I got the idea while I was driving my blue Datsun station wagon that I paid $750 for, which is all I could afford at the time. I didn’t have a pen or paper or my guitar, so I kept singing the parts over and over so I didn’t forget them. I was only about 15 minutes from home, so I turned around and went back so I could get it on tape or write it down before I forgot it. I kept singing until I got there and wrote it down. I then pulled out my guitar and started playing it in B flat, which is how I heard it in my head. I had written most of it before I got there.

I had a demo session not too long after and I was torn between an R&B version and a reggae version. I recorded both in the studio and decided on the more traditional R&B approach, which is the one people are most familiar with. It’s the one that the Allman Brothers and then Gov’t Mule recorded. It wasn’t until about 20 years later that Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead recorded the reggae version, which brought it all full circle, which was really nice.

The song isn’t really about my dad but references him and our strong relationship. He is a huge part of my life, a huge inspiration and a great role model. It’s rare to be able to have the opportunity to express that. I thought it was too simple because it came too easily, but when I tried to change it or complicate it, it seemed too contrived, so the final version is the one I wrote in the car. Some songs are better off left alone. Instead of a blues approach about how I felt, I wrote for a universal appeal. However, the more I distanced myself from it, the more I realized how personal it was.

“Soulshine”

When you can’t find the light,

That got you through a cloudy day,

When the stars ain’t shinin’ bright,

You feel like you’ve lost you’re way,

When those candle lights of home,

Burn so very far away,

Now you got to let your soul shine,

Just like my daddy used to say.

He used to say soulshine,

It’s better than sunshine,

It’s better than moonshine,

Damn sure better than rain.

Yeah now people don’t mind,

We all get this way sometime,

Got to let your soul shine, shine till the break of day.

I grew up thinkin’ that I had it made,

Gonna make it on my own.

Life can take the strongest man,

Make him feel so alone.

Now sometimes I feel a cold wind

Blowin’ through my achin’ bones,

I think back to what my daddy said,

He said “Boy, in the darkness before the dawn:”

Let your soul shine,

It’s better than sunshine,

It’s better than moonshine,

Damn sure better than rain.

Yeah now people don’t mind,

We all get this way sometimes,

Gotta let your soul shine, shine till the break of day.

Sometimes a man can feel this emptiness,

Like a woman has robbed him of his very soul.

A woman too, God knows, she can feel like this.

And when your world seems cold, you got to let your spirit take control.

Let your soul shine,

It’s better than sunshine,

It’s better than moonshine,

Damn sure better than rain.

Lord now people don’t mind,

We all get this way sometimes,

Gotta let your soul shine, shine till the break of day.

Oh, it’s better than sunshine,

It’s better than moonshine,

Damn sure better than rain.

Yeah now people don’t mind,

We all get this way sometimes,

Gotta let your soul shine, shine till the break of day.

Words and Music by Warren Haynes. © 1994 Buzzard Rock Music (BMI). Worldwide Rights for Buzzard Rock Music Administered by Cherry River Music Co. International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved.

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