It’s the 19th December, it’s day 19 of my ABC of Motown Christmas Advent Calendar and we’ve reached the letter S. I have chosen one of my favourite Motown songs for this letter. It is the timeless and truly amazing “Superstition” from Mr Stevie Wonder. The song was the first single from Stevie’s ‘Talking Book’ album. He wrote, produced and arranged the song and played drums and keyboards, obviously he did the vocal too.
It reached number one in both the US Billboard chart and the US R & B chart in 1972. It made it to a sadly less impressive number eleven in the UK. It was his first US Billboard number one since “Fingertips Part 2” in 1963. Whilst I really love much of Stevie’s music I really don’t like the only two number ones he has had in the UK. “Ebony and Ivory” the duet with Paul McCartney in 19282 and the dreadful “I Just Called To Say I Love You” in 1984. But he has recorded so much excellent music I can happily forgive him for those two. I’m just not sure I can forgive the British public for making them both number one.
Stevie originally wrote “Superstition” for Jeff Beck but Motown Supremo Berry Gordy saw the potential in the song and insisted that Wonder should record it himself. Jeff Beck later recorded his version with Beck, Bogert and Appice. Jeff has often played the song live and also recorded Stevie’s “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” for his ‘Blow By Blow’ album in 1975.
The song as the title would suggest is about superstition, however there are not many superstitious elements mentioned in the lyrics. Notably thirteen, breaking a mirror and ladders get a name check. The song can also be heard in a few movies. A character in John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ listens to it on a boombox. Will Smith’s character listens to it at the start of ‘I Robot’. Enjoy Jeff Beck’s version followed by Stevie’s below.
And finally here are Jeff and Stevie playing the song together at the 25th Anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2009.