In a Nutshell
Think it sounds fun to live in the 1970s? Grandpa Stevie might need to set you straight. The early 1970s may have featured bellbottoms, polyester, and the birth of funk, but they were also marked by war abroad and political chaos at home. His 1972 smash hit "Superstition" didn't just define Stevie Wonder as an emerging artistic genius—it defined a musical genre and a historical moment. Judging from the music, some people in that historical moment were becoming just flat pessimistic and paranoid. Read on to find out why superstitious beliefs didn't fit into Stevie Wonder's hopes for a better future—and why "Superstition" is still an unmatchable funk classic.
About the Song
||Musician(s)||Stevie Wonder (lead vocal, Hohner clavinet, drums, Moog bass); Trevor Laurence (tenor saxophone); Steve Madaio (trumpet)
|Producer(s)||Stevie Wonder, Robert Margouleff, Malcolm Cecil|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
"The lyrics swirl with nightmare images out of Robert Johnson
or Bob Dylan
," wrote a biographer
about "Superstition." "Nightmare images" might be a bit of an exaggeration, but "Superstition" is definitely a song about disillusionment. The lyrics are sparse, but the music itself betrays the mood of the times: there was a lot going on. Many people were disturbed by the Vietnam War
abroad, the backlash against the Civil Rights movement
at home, and President Richard Nixon's quickly unfurling Watergate scandal
. The charged music of "Superstition" captures the feeling of a charged moment.
On the Charts
"Superstition" was a #1 hit on the Billboard pop charts in early 1973.
"Superstition" won Grammy awards in 1973 for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Vocal Performance.
The album, Talking Book
, peaked at #3 on the Pop Albums chart and #1 on the R&B Albums chart in the U.S.
"Superstition" is ranked at #74 on Rolling Stone
's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Among many other honors, Stevie Wonder was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.
In 2008, Wonder came in at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists list.
Stevie Wonder was listed at #15 on Rolling Stone
's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time