If you have ever watched the nanny, if you were raised Jewish or if you love classic showtunes, chances are you’ve heard at least a few songs from Fiddler on the Roof and more than likely one of them was Sunrise Sunset. Just like many of the other songs this week, the songwriter for this show uses the sun rising and setting as a metaphor for days going by and the same thing happening over and over. It could be seen a million ways.
Day in and day out, things never change and things never get easier. You could look at it as Tevye’s kids keep disobeying him, getting married and times are changing for everyone, except him and his wife. You could look at it as how the Russians are invading Anitevka and each sunrise and sunset means they are getting closer to kicking the Jews out, killing them and taking over. There are a million metaphors in the song sunrise sunset from Fiddler on the Roof.
When I was younger we would sing this song but I never knew how sad it was. I always thought it was a fun one and we would swing around singing it with Match Maker and If I Were a Rich Man. We never realized how sad the show actually was and I don’t think we really could have understood. We were born in America as a second generation or third generation and never knew what it had been like to live in Europe or in Russia. We did however have Russian immigrants that lived by my Aunt and the one cleaned her house and would come to holiday meals with us. I did eventually grow up and meet her son a bit and he turned out to be bi I think and we ended up meeting at a couple of other places. I never really understood why they were so grateful to be in the US until recently when I saw a documentary about Jews being kidnapped and executed on film in Russia. The thing that shocked me most is that the documentary is very recent and this is a regular occurrence. Instead of the sun being a positive thing in this song like it was in the other broadway songs about the sun, the sun rising and the sun setting is a scary thing about the Nazis and Russians coming to take over, murder them and kick them out of their homes. After seeing a production of Fiddler on the Roof, I don’t think I could sing that song in a happy way again.