A Stevie Wonder Valentine's Playlist For All Kinds of Lovers
The Author of Romance
When I go through my iPod, I typically notice the artists whose catalog is long enough to last a good part of the day. For instance, if I want to go through an uninterrupted period of songs that make me smile, I play the Beach Boys. If I want to experience music that will keep my upbeat and content I play Earth, Wind, and Fire. And if I want to conceptualize the highs and lows of everyday relationships, I play Stevie Wonder.
Let's face it, Stevie Wonder is so gifted at making music that he could write a song about a broken dishwasher and it be an anthem. And while has successfully made music that is socially conscious and grooving, he also has made some pretty classic love songs. If you want to write a love song and write one that lasts, listen to Stevie Wonder. If you want to remember your first love, listen to Stevie. If you want to remember the one that got away, Stevie is there.
Let's not forget that Stevie Wonder is one of the reasons First Lady Michelle Obama fell for President Barack Obama. In fact, their admiration of him is so great, he has performed at the White House several times for them and their guests.
So in honor of one of music's biggest romantics and the most romantic day of the year, here is a playlist featuring songs by Stevie Wonder for every type of relationship you can think of.
First Crush: My Cherie Amour
My Cherie Amour represents a breakout moment in Stevie Wonder's career. It marked one of the first times the public saw him as more than "Little Stevie Wonder" and as a young man with his own vision and purpose as an artist.
That being said, how can you not wax poetically listening to this song. If you want to remember your first crush and the times you thought of him or her in the middle of school.
Or if you can't think of your first crush, you can imagine your child's first crush and what it means to them.
Lyrics: "Maybe someday, you'll see my face among the crowd/
Maybe someday, I'll share your little distant cloud"
Against All Odds Relationships: I Was Made to Love Her
Even if you aren't Bella and Edward, you probably have heard your share of criticism about your relationship. And while Stevie Wonder didn't say who inspired this relationship, he recorded and released this song in the 1960s- a time filled with uncertainty and tension.
When I hear this song, I tend to think of a young couple who fell in love much to the dismay of their parents. However, like many star-crossed lovers, they are concerned with each other more than the thoughts and judgments of others.
Even if you aren't or weren't in this type of relationship, it does make you think about those you know who are or were.
Lyrics: "All through thick and thin/Our love just won't end/
'Cause I love my baby, love my baby, Ah"
Engaged or Soon to Be Engaged Couples: "Overjoyed"
If you are a guy reading this who plans to propose on Valentine's Day- let this be your cheat sheet. I would not go so far as to say I helped you with this one, but at least give credit to the 8th Wonder.
Overjoyed was released in 1985, but was intended as part of the soundtrack for the 1979 documentary, The Secret Life of Plants. The song is also Stevie's last #1 on the Adult Contemporary Chart.
Since this song is about happy endings, or at least a valiant attempt at one- I can't help but think of those who are so crazy in love they are ready to make a lifetime commitment.
Lyrics: "Over dreams, I have picked out my perfect come true/
Though you never knew it was of you I've been dreaming"
Forbidden Lovers: "Part-Time Lover"
If you don't know what I mean by forbidden lovers or "Part-Time Lover" then I will put it more plainly: cheaters. And while we don't want to imagine cheaters enjoying Valentine's Day together, just be glad you aren't a cheater.
This song has it's own place in pop culture history as it has been covered several times. The original version features backing vocals from friend and R&B icon, Luther Vandross.
This song was one of Stevie's biggest hits of the 1980 and has become a pop culture catchphrase.
Lyrics: "We are strangers by day, lovers by night/
Knowing it's so wrong, feeling so right."
Wedding/Anniversary Party: "As"
You may not be as crazy in love like you were younger but you can say, "hey we made it without killing each other."
Arguably one of the most beautifully descriptive songs of his career, it is also one of the most covered. It has been sung by everyone from wedding singers to Mary J. Blige and George Michael to Michael Bolton.
And for couples who have made it to the golden stages, it probably has even more meaning than when you first danced to it together.
Lyrics: "Did you know that true love asks for nothing/
Her acceptance is the way we pay"
Suspected Infidelity: "Lately"
If you aren't the cheating party, sometimes you may be on the other side of infidelity. You may think your loved one is only going through the motions while carrying on with someone else.
Do not worry, there is a song for you as well. Stevie Wonder knew just what he was doing on his 1981 album, Hotter than July. While the song did get a nice reception it didn't take off until it was covered in 1993 by R&B group, Jodeci.
Their version, released as a promo single hit #3 on the Hot 100 chart and #1 on the R&B singles chart.
Whichever version you prefer, the song does make you feel the emotions of the protagonist, no matter how painful.
Lyrics: "But what I really feel, my eyes won't let me hide/
'Cause they always start to cry"
In Love with Love: Love's In Need of Love Today
While Stevie Wonder was known for his love songs in addition to his socially conscious songs, he sometimes mixed the two in his work.
The best example of that is the song from his landmark Album of the Year double disc, Songs in the Key of Life. Love's In Need of Love today is equal parts idealistic and realistic.
Stevie addresses issues that are still prevalent in present day society, the evils and wrongs of people who are consumed with hate robbing the world of dearly needed love.
When he performs it, it still manages to touch those around him. He performed it in 2012 at Whitney Houston's funeral and it got the crowd going.
Parental Love: "Isn't She Lovely"
For those of you who are in a long, complicated and loving relationship with people you cannot easily get rid of, this one is for you.
Parents are known to say that falling in love at first sight is entirely possible, especially when it is with your own newborn.
Stevie Wonder captured this sentiment perfectly in yet another smash from his classic Songs In The Key of Life.
He even had the sound of a baby crying for added effect. Stevie originally wanted the sound of his daughter, Aisha's first cry but it was not possible. But as with anything Stevie had a special connection and managed to get a newborn's voice on the track.
Needless to say this song reminds parents of why having the longest and hardest unpaid job is truly worth it.
It's Complicated: "If You Really Love Me"
We all know a couple who garners more attention from us because of their back and forth relationship. One day they're madly in love, the next day they aren't speaking. While many assume this only applies to high schoolers, we all know they are not the only ones using this Facebook status to describe their love lives.
Long before the internet told us how we fall in and out of love, Stevie Wonder was doing it way back in 1971 with help from the Funk Brothers and then-wife Syreeta Wright for backing accompaniment.
The song was an instant smash and reached the top 10 of the Hot 100 and R&B singles charts.
Lyrics: "What am I supposed to do/
Be a fool who sits around waiting for you"