Six Underappreciated & Overshadowed Songs by Stevie Wonder

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Granted, it’s a good problem for any songwriter to have: That because you’re written so many famous, iconic songs, that there are many great ones you’re written that get overshadowed by the others, and underappreciated.

It’s also a good job to have to be able to spend hours finding these secret song heroes, and share them. All music fans have these; it’s the nature of the business. The hits are so celebrated and get so much radio airplay. Yet there are those glorious songs which stood out always on each album, the deep cuts.

When it comes to Stevie Wonder, most of what he did was really miraculous. On his chain of albums through the 1970s, he usually played every instrument. He’d famously lay down a drum track to the music in his mind, and then start overdubbing keyboards and vocals and more. Sometimes he’d bring in horn players, but did most everything else himself. His harmonica playing, as you might know, is phenomenal.

And then the songs. He’s got a musical language all his own, which is connected to the one we know but seems to have extra dimensions. And it’s all done, as it’s been said, on Stevie-time, unbound by arbitrary arcane strictures of humankind, like clocks and calendars.

We start our journey with his resplendent “Bird of Beauty,” from 1975.

1. Stevie Wonder, “Bird of Beauty”
from Fulfillingness’ First Finale, 1974

“There is so much in life for you to feel
Unfound in white, red, or yellow pills.
A mind excursion can be such a thrill,
You please satisfy,
Take a chance and ride
The bird of beauty of the sky.”

Stevie Wonder, “A Seed’s A Star/Tree Medley”
from The Secret Life of Plants, 1979

Stevie Wonder, “Saturn” by Stevie Wonder & Michael Sembello
Extra 45 single from Songs In The Key of Life, 1976

Stevie Wonder, “Jesus Children of America”
from Innervisions, 1973

Stevie Wonder, “Master Blaster”
Stevie does Reggae in this classic Marley tribute

from Hotter Than July, 1980

“Peace has come to Zimbabwe
Third World’s right on the one
Now’s the time for celebration
‘Cause we’ve only just begun”

Stevie Wonder, “Come Back As A Flower.”
Lead vocal by Syreeta Wright
from Stevie’s secret spiritual arboreal masterpiece,
The Secret Life of Plants, 1979

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