Song Draft 2021 – Round 10 – Final Pick – Superstition – Stevie Wonder

We have reached the final round of the 2021 Song Draft hosted by Hanspostcard. I want to thank Hans for allowing me to be a part of it, and also thank the other participants who welcomed me into the draft. I have truly enjoyed being a part of this!

Prior to the draft, I made a list of possible song choices. As the draft continued, each round I would look at my list (and at the songs picked by the others) and decide which one would be my next choice. Some of the picks were easy, while others were more difficult. A few of them were spur of the moment picks that weren’t on the original list.

As I looked at that list in preparation for my last pick, I see many artists that I’d love to have featured: Aretha Franklin, The Honeydrippers, Big Joe Turner, Bob Seger, The Go-Go’s, Bill Withers, Johnny Lang, Queen, Buster Brown, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Buddy Guy, Neil Diamond, Mel Torme’ and so many more! I stared at my list for a long time and thought about it. Since I began the draft with a Michigan artist, I should wrap up with a Michigan artist. So my final pick for the draft is – Superstition by Stevie Wonder.

Stevie was born a little over 100 miles north of Detroit in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950. He would forever be associated with Detroit and Motown records. In a 1990 Detroit appearance at Tiger Stadium, Nelson Mandella said, “It is motor town that gave the world a great singer – Steve Wonder!”

In 1963, when he was known as “Little” Stevie Wonder, he had his first #1 song with a cut called Fingertips Part 2. Personally, I could never stand that song. It was in a heavy rotation at the first radio station I worked at, and I found it annoying. It would be 10 years before he received his next #1 song – Superstition.

The song was released on his fifteenth studio album, Talking Book.

Guitarist Jeff Beck was a fan of Stevie’s music and Stevie heard about this just before recording the Talking Book sessions. Though at this point he was playing virtually all of the instruments on his songs by himself, Stevie preferred to let other guitarists play on his records, and he liked the idea of a collaboration with Beck. An agreement was quickly made for Beck to become involved in the sessions that became the Talking Book album, in return for Wonder writing him a song.

According to legend, between the album sessions, Beck came up with the opening drum beat. Stevie told Jeff to keep playing while he improvised over the top of it. He improvised most of the song, including the funky riff. They wound up creating a rough demo of the song that day.

After finishing the song, Wonder decided that he would allow Beck to record “Superstition” as part of their agreement. Originally, the plan was for Beck to release his version of the song first, with his newly formed power trio Beck, Bogert, and Appice. Their album’s release, however, was delayed.

From Songfacts.com: When Stevie turned 21, he was no longer obligated to Motown Records, and used his clout to sign a deal with the label giving him unprecedented control of his music. He got a large share of royalties and publishing rights, and Motown was not allowed to alter the albums once they were delivered. One thing Motown did control, however, were what songs they released as singles. Knowing Jeff Beck was about to record his version, Motown head Berry Gordy made sure this was the first single and released it before Beck could get his out.

This was recorded at Electric Lady Studios, which is where Jimi Hendrix recorded. The studios stayed active after Hendrix’ death, with artists like Miles Davis and Deep Purple also recording there.

At the time, Wonder would keep the studio booked so he could record when inspiration hit. Stevie’s bass player at the time, Scott Edwards, told Songfacts this was not always convenient for his band. “Because he does not have sight, he’s not controlled by daylight,” said Edwards. “So he may begin his night at midnight. Which is bad, because if they want you to come do an overdub or something, he may call you at 4 a.m. and say, ‘Come on in.'”

I always loved the funky feel of this song, and I always played it when I was DJing Halloween parties.

Aside of Jeff Beck’s version, many others have covered this song. None made much of an impact until Stevie Ray Vaughan released a live version as a single in 1986 on his album Live Alive. His version still gets radio airplay today on many Classic Rock stations.

In 1974, the song earned Stevie his first Grammy Award.

Superstition – Lyrics

Very superstitious,
Writing’s on the wall,
Very superstitious,
Ladders bout’ to fall,
Thirteen month old baby,
Broke the lookin’ glass
Seven years of bad luck,
The good things in your past

When you believe in things
That you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition aint the way

Hey

Very superstitious,
Wash your face and hands,
Rid me of the problem,
Do all that you can,
Keep me in a daydream,
Keep me goin’ strong,
You don’t wanna save me,
Sad is the soul

When you believe in things
That you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way,
Yeh, yeh

Very superstitious,
Nothin’ more to say,
Very superstitious,
The devil’s on his way,
Thirteen month old baby,
Broke the lookin’ glass,
Seven years of bad luck,
Good things in your past

When you believe in things
That you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way,
No, no, no

As a bonus – here is the official video of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s cover….watch for a cool cameo at the end ….

Tune Tuesday – How Long

HOW LONG1

If you are like me, you have songs that when you hear them on your MP3 player, or your iPod, as soon as they end, you play them again.  I have quite a few of them.  I would wager a guess that these songs will end up here in future Tune Tuesday blogs.  Today’s song is definitely one that I play at least twice.

I was working in country radio when this song hit my desk.  I knew that the Eagles, whose last studio album had been 28 years earlier, had recorded a new album.  I was surprised that this song was shipped to our station as a song that could possibly make the playlist.  While the Eagles certainly had a “southern” sound, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I popped it into the CD player and began to listen to it.  I remember liking the opening guitar lick.  I remember thinking that the vocals were strong and then the chorus hit.  Those amazing Eagles harmonies were there and sounded amazing!  Solid Eagles.  I fell in love with it and when I talked to my program director, he thought the same thing.  It stood out amongst the other songs, and we were ok with that.

What’s neat about the song is that The Eagles had been performing it at concerts in the early 70’s.  The song was written by JD Souther, and he wanted to record it for his own album, so the Eagles never recorded it.  Souther and the Eagles were good friends, and JD co-wrote some of their hits (New Kid In Town, Heartache Tonight, and The Best of My Love). He released his version of the song on his 1972 Album, John David Souther.

Fast forward to 2007.  Glenn Frey said that his kids were watching a clip of the Eagles on a special called Pop Gala (in Holland) from 1974.  As his kids laughed at how long his hair was, the band was playing How Long.  Glenn’s wife told him that the band should record the song stating that it was “classic Eagles.”  He agreed that it would fit right in with what they were recording for their album Long Road Out of Eden.

In 2008, the song won a Grammy Award for “Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal”.  It was the group’s first Grammy since 1979.  1979 was also when they had recorded their last studio album.

Play it twice!  I know I will ….

How Long – The Eagles

Like a blue bird with his heart removed, lonely as a train
I’ve run just as far as I can run
If I never see the good old days shinin’ in the sun
I’ll be doin’ fine and then some
How long, how long
Woman will you weep
How long, how long
Rock yourself to sleep
Well I been doin’ time in lonesome prison, where the sun don’t shine
Just outside, the freedom river runs
Out there in that shiny night, with blood hounds on your mind
Don’t you know it’s the same sad situation?
How long, how long
Woman will you weep
How long, how long
Rock yourself to sleep
Everybody feels alright you know, I heard some poor fool say (somebody ooh)
Everyone is out there on the loose
Well I wish I lived in the land of fools, no one knew my name
But what you get is not quite what you choose
Tell me, how long, how long
Woman will you weep
How long, how long
Rock yourself to sleep
How long, how long
Muddy River runs so deep
How long, how long
Good night baby, rock yourself to sleep
Sleep tight baby, rock yourself to sleep
B-b-b, bye bye baby, rock yourself to sleep
HOW LONG