[12] Stevie Wonder, ‘For Once In My Life’

There are few more ecstatic records than this in the pop canon, and few better singers to express it. Stevie’s beautiful improvisation around a melody can convey pretty much any emotion, but joy is his calling card. And why wouldn’t he be on top of the world? At last, he’s found The One, “someone warm like you”. From the anticipation-building intro, a close cousin of Sam & Dave’s ‘Soul Man’ jump-off, to the delirious harmonica solo and beyond, Stevie etches a template for lovestruck abandonment.

As far as the Wonder catalogue goes – off the top of my head – this is only trumped by ‘Sir Duke’ when it comes to communicating the delight of just being. That’s a bit of a cheat, of course, because there’s no risk with Basie, Miller and Satchmo. Right here, Stevie is laying his heart on the line.

Junior recognised the bliss and let herself go, wheeling around the kitchen with her mum and admiring her reflection in the oven door as she did so. Narcissus would wilt.

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2 thoughts on “[12] Stevie Wonder, ‘For Once In My Life’

  1. Aw, I love this track. It’s just so *joyful*. I used to play it on the piano over and over and over and over again. My poor parents.

  2. I’m sure their hearts were stuffed with gladness.

    I just used to play the synth riffs from ‘Don’t You Want Me’ and the Mode’s ‘Love In Itself’. One could never tire of them. Well, you’d have thought…

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