Saturday, January 27, 1973

Stevie Wonder hit #1 with “Superstition”

Superstition

Stevie Wonder

Writer(s): Stevie Wonder (see lyrics here)


First Charted: November 11, 1972


Peak: 11 US, 12 CB, 2 GR, 12 HR, 38 AC, 13 RB, 4 CL, 11 UK, 6 CN, 95 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 238.51 video, 524.14 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Discrepancies abound regarding this song’s origin. One version says Wonder wrote it while at the drums, first playing the beat and then humming the melody. AMG Blues-rock guitarist Jeff Beck was planning a 1971 album with Motown MA but when the project was abandoned, MA Motown opted to release a version by Wonder. LW It became his first #1 hit in nearly a decade. RS500

Another account suggests that when Wonder began his Talking Book album, Beck was a principal collaborator TB and that “Superstition” grew out of the pair jamming in the studio TB with Beck coming up with the drum groove while Wonder crafted the distinctive riff on clarinet. TB In this more selfish version of the story, after initially offering the song to Beck, Wonder opted to keep it for himself as a single release to the dismay of Beck’s label. TB

Regardless of its origins, the song “was a rock/ funk crossover” AMG that furthered soul and pop music’s modern studio recording techniques MA via “early use of synthesized keyboards” JA and “one of the most copied and influential riffs ever written.” LW When Beck finally released his own version on Beck, Bogart, Appice, it was a drum-driven rock song aided by Carmine Appice, AMG which was “nothing more than bluesy light jazz.” MA

After label-mate Marvin Gaye’s success with the themed album, What’s Going On, in 1971, he renogitiated his Motown contract for more royalties and artistic control. LW Wonder followed suit with the company’s most lucrative contract in their history and was guaranteed complete artistic control – at only 21 years old. LW


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Last updated 11/24/2022.

Saturday, January 6, 1973

Carly Simon “You’re So Vain” hit #1

You’re So Vain

Carly Simon

Writer(s): Carly Simon (see lyrics here)


Released: November 8, 1972


First Charted: December 1, 1972


Peak: 13 US, 12 CB, 13 GR, 11 HR, 12 AC, 1 CL, 3 UK, 11 CN, 17 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 56.97 video, 312.42 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“It’s hard to imagine anyone better-suited to the early-’70s singer-songwriter moment than Carly Simon.” SG She grew up as a wealthy New Yorker, thanks to her father co-founding the publishing house Simon & Schuster. “She was beautiful in a vivid and singular way.” SG She started recording folk music with her sister Lucy in the 1960s and went solo in 1970. She won the Grammy for Best New Artist and then, after dating a few famous guys, married fellow singer/songwriter James Taylor. “And she was a songwriter capable of writing something like ‘You’re So Vain.’” SG

The song featured “the lush instrumentation of a lot of the era’s singer-songwriter stuff, but it also has that terse, mean bassline. There’s a percussive force to the song’s pianos, its strings, and its squawking guitar solo. And then there’s Mick Jagger’s voice, which becomes obvious the second you hear it.” SG The song was “a meta-commentary on itself” SG with the clever line, “You’re so vain / I bet you think this song is about you.”

Most importantly, her “elegant skewing” SG launched a “decades-long guessing game” AS as people speculated who Carly Simon was referring to in her “cryptic retrospect of a self-absorbed past lover.” AS Was it about Taylor? Was it Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson, Jack Nicholson, or Cat Stevens – all previous flings? Was it David Bowie, session guitarist Dan Armstrong, or someone else entirely?

At a 2003 charity auction, Dick Ebersol, president of NBC Sports, paid $50,000 to learn the subject(s) identity – but he had to stay mum. SG In 2015, she told People magazine that “the second verse is Warren.” “Their fleeting New York City romance is summed up in the following lines: ‘You had me several years ago when I was still quite na├»ve / Well you said that we made such a pretty pair/ And that you would never leave / But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me / I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee.’” AS She also revealed “Warren thinks the whole thing is about him!” AS but “I had about three or four different people in mind when I wrote that song.” FB


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First posted 11/26/2022.