4/12/18: Stevie Wonder “I Wish”
The first words that ran through my mind this morning were “Lookin’ back on when I was a little nappy-headed boy” accompanied by a bouncing bassline and some shining brass. I never was a “little nappy-headed boy,” but I do love the song that line comes from!
Written and performed by the one and only Stevie Wonder, “I Wish” is a recollection of childhood “in the key of life!” It won Wonder a Grammy for best R&B Vocal Performance, and ended up as his fifth #1 charting hit on Billboard’s Hot 100, a position it occupied for a week. Along with “Sir Duke,” “I Wish” was one of two #1 hits from “Songs in the Key of Life,” the monumental double album that Stevie Wonder spent two years working on.
“Songs in the Key of Life” was a huge collection of adventurous songs, and the first album Wonder released after signing to an extensive seven year, multi-million dollar contact with Motown Records. From “Sir Duke,” a tribute to legendary jazzman Duke Ellington, to “Love’s In Need Of Love Today” and “Village Ghetto Land,” Stevie Wonder’s 18th album proved to be his most successful and influential.
According to legend, “I Wish” was written by Stevie directly after attending a Motown company picnic. He spent the whole afternoon participating in contests and playing games, and he felt that all that fun rekindled some of his childhood. The song swirls around Stevie in his younger days, growing up in difficult circumstances, where he found joy in everyday life despite growing up in poverty. He talks about the virtues of a simpler time, and looks back fondly on his past. It’s a feeling we can all identify with, and that’s probably a big part of why this song has experienced such enduring success!
“I Wish” has been running through my brain like a freight train all day today, so here it is… so you can get it stuck in your head, too!