If a famous recording artist was also an unmistakable composer then, when creating a playlist of that artist’s music, the best way might be to deliver a selection of their songs (music or/and lyrics) written for others. And when that someone is none other than Stevie Wonder, a carefully (though subjectively) selected sequence of tracks, covering over four decades, might offer a fair representation of his unique touch, as well as highlighting some perhaps underrated songs we might not have known where his.
Unlike his friend Prince’s output under various alias and monikers, Wonder’s productions and writings for others are numerous (see Get Deeper below) but not innumerable. Some were songs he gave away as they were deemed unfit for his own albums; others were tailor made for the artists included here – dizzying reading given the number of legends present. Certainly, whether the listener is aware of it or not, eternal classics such as “Tell Me Something Good”, “It’s A Shame”, “Until You Come Back To Me” and “I Can’t Help It”, are unforgettable and undeniable cornerstones of Stevie’s career.
But do pay attention to the other less famous or less obvious tracks featured here. Take for instance “Thelonious” sung by a pre-Zapp sounding Jeff Beck, of the pre-Daft Punk sounding “What’s That You’re Doing” for and with Paul McCartney. And, much earlier than these two examples, as a teenager Stevie wrote for his well established and adult Motown peers (Smokey, Diana, Marvin, the Four Tops…) – all just appetizers for the 70’s Wonder(ful) explosion that redefined music forever after.
“If it’s magic / Why can’t we make it everlasting / Like the lifetime of the sun / It will leave no heart undone / For there’s enough for everyone!”