Song 126: Stevie Wonder, “Superstition” (1972)Posted: May 6, 2013
“Superstition” brings us to two recurring themes here at 365 Songs: it sounds fantastic on vinyl and he was HOW OLD when he recorded it?? 22. Stevie Wonder was 22 when he recorded the Talking Book album. God help us all.
Of course, nobody is as talented as Stevie Wonder, as a songwriter, as an instrumentalist, as a performer. He can do all of those things amazingly well, and he’s had that ability since he was a child. Oh, and he’s blind.
Anyway, “Superstition.” One of my fondest memories from college was when we discussed this song in Ear Training class, a course in which John Corrie talked about music in a way that somehow encompassed world history, the human brain, and pop culture. As a group, we transcribed various songs by ear, including Wonder’s “Sir Duke” and “Superstition.” I don’t remember much about the transcription for the latter, but I do remember Corrie’s love for this song, and how, in his voice that recalled Niles Crane, he quoted his favorite line from the song: “‘Wash your face and hands.’ Just wonderful.”
And it is, isn’t it? There are more ominous lines from the song, like “thirteen month old baby broke the looking glass” and “the devil’s on his way,” but for some reason, “wash your face and hands” is the creepiest of them all. As Lizzie pointed out tonight, “Superstition” is such a strange idea for a song, which is true, but I’ve always just accepted it at face value. There’s this song about superstitions. Of course there is, because Stevie Wonder’s singing it, and he’s playing a mean clavinet while doing it.
Lizzie also thought that I should include the fact that until last night, I thought the end of the chorus was, “superstition in the way.” Me? I don’t think it’s necessary to include it.