On The Sunny Side Of The Street

As mentioned previously, I’m learning to play electric guitar. My instructor said I’m too advanced for the beginning class, and as it turns out I’m the only one who showed up; so I’m getting private lessons at the group rate.

The instructor is using On The Sunny Side Of The Street because it’s a well-known song (not to me – I only know the one by The Pogues) and because it uses barre chords he wants to teach. So here’s the thing: I can play chords up near the head, but I have very little experience with barre chords. In addition, we’re using an unfamiliar song. So one thing I should do is listen to the song. But which version?

What is ‘the definitive’ version of On The Sunny Side Of The Street?

There really isn’t one. The best known is probably the 1945 Tommy Dorsey version, but the song itself is a standard. It’s been covered by artists from Duke Ellington to Ella Fitzgerald to Judy Garland to Cyndi Lauper (whose version I personally really like) to Gene Kelly! No one has really made it a signature song, like Frank Sinatra with “My Way” or Judy Garland with “Over The Rainbow”.

I want to learn the song, so I’d like a version without too many ‘flourishes’. (Example: If you wanted to learn The Star-Spangled Banner a version such as used at the Superbowl would not be preferred.) A ‘standard’ version without too much ‘interpretation’ would be good.

Hey, Johnny, you’re one of my favorite posters so please don’t take this in a snitty “Google is Your Friend” kind of way.

It took me a very long time to get it into my head that I could use YouTube as a music source. Since YouTube is a video site, I only would think of it if I specifically wanted to find a T.V. clip, or a Comedy “Viral Video”, or looking for a music video.

I had a major “d’Oh!” moment went it finally hit me to go directly to YouTube as a music source. As a matter of fact, when I want to learn a cover tune that I don’t have in my own music library I usually find it on chordie.com or a lyrics site then listen to the song on YouTube to refresh my memory- like if I know the song but barely remember how the bridge goes. It’s been a pretty successful system for me.

This way, without putting yourself out too much you can listen to a few versions. Even just listening to the first verse and chorus you’ll quickly decide for yourself which versions have too much “flourish” for your purposes.

YouTube Results for a “Sunny Side of the Street” search.

Heh. Kind of hard to respond to a post with such a preface without appearing to have taken offense! :wink: But no worries.

Actually I did listen to several samples on iTunes Store before posting. Not knowing the song though, I’m unsure of what I really want and was hoping for some opinions. Thanks for the YouTube links.


I’ve listened to a YouTube offering (I chose Sinatra) and found the lyrics online. I’ve been playing the guitar a bit. The chords I was given are these:

Bb D Eb F Adim Gm C7 Cm F7 Bb F7

Not sure of the key, but the Bb has the 6th fret barred and then like you’re making an E. I’m OK through the F, but the Adim just sounds ‘wrong’. My fingers won’t go to it automatically yet (1st string 5th fret, 2nd string 4th fret, 3rd string 4th fret, 4th string 3rd fret) but I get to it. Still doesn’t sound like it ‘follows’ the F. The GM, C7 and CM are very similar (barred 3rd fret) and I’m beginning to be able to switch between them with only a few verification glances. They even sound as if they belong in the song. But the whole Adim-Gm-C7-Cm-F7-Bb-F7 bit isn’t happening. I’ll have to hear the instructor play them again and try to copy him very slowly. The F7 is difficult too. It’s 1st string X, 2nd string 6th fret, 3rd string 8th fret, 4th string 7th fret, 5th string 8th fret, 6th string X. Basically a C-something (C7?) if played up at the top, but shifted up five frets. Again, I’m not used playing the higher frets so my fingers don’t automatically go there.