Study Guide

Superstition Introduction

Superstition Introduction

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

ArtistWonder, Stevie
Year1972
LabelMotown
Writer(s)Stevie Wonder
Producer(s)Stevie Wonder, Robert Margouleff, Malcolm Cecil
Musician(s)Stevie Wonder (lead vocal, Hohner clavinet, drums, Moog bass); Trevor Laurence (tenor saxophone); Steve Madaio (trumpet)
Learn to playChords, Clavinet
AlbumTalking Book

Music Video

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Influences on Wonder, Stevie

"I went to a Sly and the Family Stone concert, and the whole place was rockin', super rockin'…and I wanted to have my concerts be like that," said Stevie Wonder. As a recording artist and songwriter for Motown Records from his preteen years on, Stevie Wonder was influenced by a million big names: he worked directly with Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, the Miracles, and many others at Motown before he was even 18. He was also influenced by Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Johnny Ace.

Influenced by Wonder, Stevie

Wonder has been around for so long, and has been so prolific, that few big-time musicians in the soul, funk, pop or R&B genres could claim not to have been influenced by him, at least peripherally. Artists whose work seems to take direct inspiration include the Jackson 5, Prince, Lionel Richie, and D'Angelo.

Superstition Resources

Books

Mark Ribowsky, Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Soulful Journey of Stevie Wonder (2010)
This is a relatively thorough and easy-to-read biography.

Steve Lodder, Stevie Wonder: A Musical Guide to the Classic Albums (2005)
For the fan, a close look at Wonder's musical legacy. This book is one writer's personal take on the music and performance elements of many of his classic songs.

Craig Werner, Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul (2004)
This is a slightly more academic book that discusses the rise of soul music in terms of its social and political significance.

Dennis Love and Stacy Brown, Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway, Stevie Wonder's Mother (2002)
This is the authorized biography of Stevie Wonder's mom.

Albums

Talking Book (1972)
This is the album that many consider the kick-off of Wonder's "classic" period. He came into his own as a musician and producer, and also made several hits out of this album.

Innervisions (1973)
Another classic creation followed up Talking Book. Any true Wonder fan must have this.

Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
The ambitious capstone to Wonder's classic period and a great high point in his career, this album spans a range of styles and shows off Wonder's developed skills.

Images

Stevie Wonder on the piano
He's got the turtleneck sweater, he's got the glasses, and he's got the talent.

Singing Stevie, c. 1970s
This is classic Stevie Wonder: joy and singing.

Stevie Wonder with a band, c. 1970s
The 1970s were Stevie's golden era, just as they were the golden era of the bellbottom pant leg.

Stevie Wonder in the 2000s
Still wearing the glasses, still being amazing.

Movies & TV

Stevie Wonder: Live At Last (2009)
Although he appears on almost countless soundtracks, there are surprisingly few live full-length videos of Stevie for fans to enjoy. This one features his daughter Aisha on stage with him.

Night of Wonder: Live in London (1995)
A little 1990s fun with Stevie.

Websites

Stevie Wonder Official Site
Do not be fooled by imposter sites! The real Stevie Wonder is just a click away.

Oprah interviews Stevie Wonder (2004)
Stevie talks about success, politics, and making music in the post-9/11 era.

Video & Audio

"Superstition" Live on Sesame Street
Sesame Street made its debut in 1973, and it has always been a supremely cool TV show. If you need proof, watch this video.

"I Just Called to Say I Love You"
Stevie Wonder has not been huge on official music videos: this 1984 hit made for the film Woman in Red is the sole occupant of StevieWonderVEVO.

Stevie Wonder interview, Part I
This six-part film on "Biography" provides a great in-depth view of Stevie Wonder's career and charming personality.