Stevie Wonder, consider this a call to say we love you and wish you the very best of birthdays.
You’re 71 today. On the music scene, we should declare May 13 a national holiday. And the best way to celebrate Stevie Wonder is with his own music. Maybe he’s tired of hearing his music, but we’re not.
And it seems there are a lot of music icons who want to send their best birthday wishes.
How about Tony Bennett, who tweeted “sending a very happy birthday to my friend, the one and only Stevie Wonderful! Whats’ your favorite song by Stevie Wonder?”
Great question. Favorite Stevie Wonder song. Rolling Stone Magazine once polled its readers on this very subject. That would be Superstition. We figure, the writings on the wall, you’ll get seven years of bad luck if you don’t like this song.
This Stevie Wonder song was released in October 1972. And it was his very first No. 1 song of an incredible decade. The song You Are the Sunshine of My Life also is on the album, Talking Book. And like Superstition, it climbed to No. 1. These two songs led to three Stevie Wonder Grammys.
So sing it, Stevie.
We also must acknowledge it wasn’t his first No. 1. He used to be called “Little” Stevie Wonder, who at 13, reached the top of the charts for Motown with Fingertips. Wonder lost his sight shortly after birth. But he was a musical prodigy as he started recording at age 11. With Fingertips, he became the youngest person ever to record a No. 1 song.
Next Stevie Wonder Birthday Stop? Living for the City
Next up for Stevie Wonder was the album Innervisions with the incredible Living for the City. Wonder won the Grammy for best album. And a couple of decades later, the song was a backdrop for a pivotal scene in Jungle Fever. As the song blares, Flipper, played by Wesley Snipes, is looking for his brother, Gator, portrayed by played by Samuel L Jackson, in a crack house.
In an interview with Slate, director Spike Lee said of the Stevie Wonder song:
“I said to myself, ‘One day, I’m gonna use that song in a movie.’ And a lot of times I keep sh*t in my mind, and I say to myself, there’s gonna be a time when I make a movie and the song will reveal itself. So I said I knew I had to use that for Jungle Fever. Now, I’ve used a lot of music in movies, and I’ve chosen a lot of songs for a lot of images. But the imagery of Flipper Purify looking for his brother Gator when he goes to the local crack den while “Living for the City” plays on the soundtrack? That was the ultimate 1980s crack den. The Taj Mahal of crack dens!”
Wonder Hits High Note By Age 25 With Songs in the Key of Life
The work of Stevie Wonder was so fabulous that by 1976, he became the first American singer to have an album debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. That was Songs in the Key of Life. There were two songs that hit No. 1 on both the pop charts and R&B. Those were Sir Duke and I Wish.
The album also featured Isn’t She Lovely. Wonder wrote that after the birth of his daughter, Aisha. Of course, the album won a Grammy.
So let’s keep the Stevie Wonder birthday party going with a horn intro and Sir Duke.
The Stevie Wonder musical resume is just incredible. He recorded 10 No. 1 hits on the pop charts and 20 that hit the top of the R&B lists. And he’s sold more than 100 million records.
No wonder the musical greats were honoring one of the greatest of all time.
Here’s a tweet from Jason Isbell, one of the great country singer/songwriters: “Happy birthday to Stevie Wonder, probably the most talented man on Earth.”