The 100 Greatest Songs of the Rock Era: #88: Superstition


Stevie Wonder from Talking Book (1972)

“Do you think there’s any rock superstar with more range than Stevie Wonder?” Peggy said.

“Well, the Beatles had a lot of range.”

“Sure, but I don’t know that even their catalog was as diverse as Wonder’s has been. Look at the two songs from him in your top one hundred so far – a sentimental ballad and a funk rave-up. And even that doesn’t express his full range. You can go even more sentimental with something like ‘Sunshine of My Life’ and into something approaching hard rock with ‘Higher Ground.’”

“Speaking of hard rock, you know that ‘Superstition’ was supposed to be Jeff Beck’s song, right?”

“Jeff Beck?”

“Yeah, Beck was starting Beck, Bogart & Appice, and Wonder wrote this song for them. Then Beck’s new band had delays getting their album out and Wonder released ‘Superstition’ on Talking Book. The BB&A version is really good, though it’s hard to imagine it would have been anywhere near that hit that Wonder’s version turned out to be if it had come out first.”

“Great songs can go in lots of different directions.”

“Exactly. Actually, that was one of the standards I used for putting this list together. The song had to have the potential to work in multiple arrangements. I was specifically thinking that it had to work with one instrument, since that would get to the essence of the song.”

“I’m not sure I see this song working with one instrument.”

“Really? I could imagine a sleek version on acoustic guitar. That wasn’t really the point in this case, though. The ‘multiple arrangements’ thing applies here.”

Peggy laughed, but didn’t say anything else.

“What?” I said.

“You’re still a rock geek after all these years, aren’t you.”

It would have been silly to protest that.

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