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Stevie Wonder
June 24, 2006 8:18 PM   Subscribe

Stevie Wonder performs his classic hit "Superstition" on Sesame Street in 1973, and turns it into an extended funk workout. He sticks around to perform his own killer theme for the show. [via YouTube]
posted by New Frontier (102 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pure awesome.
posted by parallax7d at 8:24 PM on June 24, 2006


Awesome.

A small nit: it isn't via youtube, it is youtube.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:24 PM on June 24, 2006


That blew my mind. One of my fav. songs ever on one of my fav. shows ever. Thanks, New Frontier!
posted by brundlefly at 8:28 PM on June 24, 2006


and the second link is a Double.
posted by wheelieman at 8:29 PM on June 24, 2006


Wow. THAT was cool as hell. Makes me weep for the crap they call music today.
posted by JWright at 8:29 PM on June 24, 2006


One of the best shows ever.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:30 PM on June 24, 2006


As someone who watched Sesame Street back in the day, I guess I'll be the first to note how Sesame Street turned into crap during the 1980s, and then Elmo showed up.
posted by rolypolyman at 8:31 PM on June 24, 2006


That hairy kid at the top of the stairs is awesome.
posted by danb at 8:32 PM on June 24, 2006


Beautiful.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:34 PM on June 24, 2006


and what JWright said.
posted by rolypolyman at 8:35 PM on June 24, 2006


Yes! Yes! Feel it young headbanger child!
posted by dgaicun at 8:43 PM on June 24, 2006


This makes me weep for what passes for children's television programming these days.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:48 PM on June 24, 2006


I don't think I'd ever paid attention to the lyrics before..
posted by unmake at 8:53 PM on June 24, 2006


That was seven different kinds of awesome. Thanks.
posted by Gamblor at 8:56 PM on June 24, 2006


made my evening... great post...
posted by priested at 8:59 PM on June 24, 2006


Very Very Nice. V.V.N. for short
posted by stilgar at 8:59 PM on June 24, 2006


>Makes me weep for the crap they call music today.

And what were guys with your attitude saying when Stevie started up?
posted by skallas at 8:59 PM on June 24, 2006


All kinds of T3H 4W350M3.

But this wouldn't fly today. For one thing, it's not "educational." For another thing, "Superstition" is 6 minutes long, or about 4 minutes longer than most Sesame Street pieces. CTW has decided that childrens' attention spans aren't short enough already

I watched Sesame Street with the toddler for a while, but we've moved to other shows, because I'm annoyed with the short cuts and Elmo.
posted by dw at 9:08 PM on June 24, 2006


Wow, a children's show with good pop music played live when it was still fresh. These days I assume the only guest stars Sesame Street gets are the Raffi type.
posted by mathowie at 9:14 PM on June 24, 2006


Yes, that sounded wonderful. But let me be unrepentantly shallow and note that Stevie was one handsome, handsome man back in the day. *fans self*
posted by rosemere at 9:17 PM on June 24, 2006


Haven't you heard? Kindie rock is all the rage these days. Not on Sesame Street but on Noggin, mind you.
posted by O9scar at 9:27 PM on June 24, 2006


Man, I don't even know anything about music and I'm loving this.
posted by JHarris at 9:28 PM on June 24, 2006


That was great, but I'm still mad at Stevie Wonder. You see, the 15-year old me thought "Living for the City" was just the coolest song ever. Many* years later, the 40-year old me downloaded it.

Believe me, if you haven't listened to it for a while, the "bus" sequence kind of drags, and is - yes - laughable at points.

*25

posted by yhbc at 9:34 PM on June 24, 2006


I loved the head-shaking-rocking-go-go-dancing kid in the background of Superstition, I wish there were more shots of him (and I have to wonder whatever became of the kid). Very cool indeed!

While the Muppets weren't a "children only" show, here's another (youtube) video that you wouldn't see happening in this day and age: Alice cooper: Schools Out for Summer on the Muppet Show.

*cues up Higher Ground and proceeds to rock out*
posted by spacelux at 9:41 PM on June 24, 2006


Man I had forgotten that. I remember running to find my mom so I could show her the craazzzy man on tv singing that neat song. Damn I loved that! Sat here and watched with my 12 yr old daughter and she loved it as well.
posted by filchyboy at 9:42 PM on June 24, 2006


The pure distilled awesomeness has left me speechless.
posted by Justinian at 10:12 PM on June 24, 2006


Scorching is so right. OMFG. Favorited.
posted by moonbird at 10:16 PM on June 24, 2006


Damn. That is easily the best rendition of Superstition I have ever heard. Love the old/fat white guys on horns! GO WHITE FUNK HORN PLAYERS!
posted by smallerdemon at 10:32 PM on June 24, 2006


Ultra bad-ass awesome ... and to think PBS decided a "hip" kids' show was required, resulting in the stinkpile known as "Electric Company."

Oh my god that band is outrageous, as is Mr. Wonder at the height of his powers.

Yeah, the lyrics are dark and mean. Goes well together with Leonard Cohen's "The Future."

I've just sent this clip to a dozen people. Thanks for the pointer, New Frontier!
posted by kenlayne at 10:33 PM on June 24, 2006


Many thanks.
posted by A dead Quaker at 10:36 PM on June 24, 2006


I dunno... this is plenty awesome now, but I think that if I had seen this at four years old I would have been thinking, "Who is this man and where are my puppets?"
posted by borkingchikapa at 10:41 PM on June 24, 2006


And right toward the end ...
We're gonna close it up ... right about ...
No! Still goin'!

Awesome.
posted by grabbingsand at 10:41 PM on June 24, 2006


Fan-freakin'-tastic
posted by funkbrain at 10:49 PM on June 24, 2006


Anybody have an MP3 of the audio?
posted by nathan_teske at 10:54 PM on June 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ok, after downloading the file via Firefox, how do I export it as an mp3 on my Mac? Thanks in advance.
posted by pwb503 at 11:00 PM on June 24, 2006


No f*ckin' shit, I remember this from when I was a kid. One of those music moments that places an indelible imprint on you, like when I saw the Monkees for the first time...
posted by kgasmart at 11:25 PM on June 24, 2006


And what were guys with your attitude saying when Stevie started up?

That he was an irritating novelty act who would go away:

"A devotee of folk music could not help but wonder, as he groped toward the door of Carnegie Hall last night, what ever happened to Burl Ives and 'The Blue-Tail Fly' ... The show, in effect, had the emotional depth of 'The Ice Capades,' the whoop-de-do of the circus and the vacuousness of a recital by Little Stevie Wonder and the Four Freshmen." [Robert Shelton, New York Times, 12 October 1963]
posted by blucevalo at 12:08 AM on June 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


fuuuuuuuck. incredible.
posted by ab3 at 12:34 AM on June 25, 2006


Day-um. Yes, I remember when Sesame Street used to do stuff like this and it was great. Wow.
posted by litlnemo at 12:36 AM on June 25, 2006


Hey! The Four Freshmen are great! Robert Shelton, or anyone who would diss the Freshmen AND Stevie, can kiss my ass.
posted by wsg at 12:51 AM on June 25, 2006


Agreed ... was just pointing out that there have been and always will be haters, even of someone with Stevie Wonder's unparalleled genius ...
posted by blucevalo at 12:53 AM on June 25, 2006


Today, the kid with the long hair wouldn't be allowed to be dancing where he was, there would be lots o' programmed shit going on with the synth and drums, the sax player would wear a different shirt, there would be lots of monsters dancing around like these girls, and they'd tell him to hurry the hell up.
posted by pracowity at 12:57 AM on June 25, 2006


Wow, a children's show with good pop music played live when it was still fresh. These days I assume the only guest stars Sesame Street gets are the Raffi type.
posted by mathowie at 9:14 PM PST on June 24 [+fave] [!]


Um...these days Hollywood A-list people are willing to go on Sesame Street for a few seconds with a dozen other stars. Have you seen Put down the Ducky (from early nineties, I think - Rhea Pearlman and Danny Devito, among many others, all appearing for only little bits)? Robin Williams has done sketches. They have more celebrities willing to go one - some maybe even asking - than ever before. Any under 35 would grown up watching Sesame Street, just like the rest of us.
posted by jb at 1:10 AM on June 25, 2006



I dunno... this is plenty awesome now, but I think that if I had seen this at four years old I would have been thinking, "Who is this man and where are my puppets?"
posted by borkingchikapa at 10:41 PM PST on June 24


Yeah, except I had half that reaction today - I know who the man is (and man was he good), but I still want my puppets too. Why didn't they have dancing puppets?
posted by jb at 1:13 AM on June 25, 2006


Awesome.
posted by bardic at 1:22 AM on June 25, 2006


I will be showing this to my elementary music classes on Monday. Thank you very, very much.
posted by honeydew at 2:55 AM on June 25, 2006


It's sounds like a lot of folks just discovered Stevie Wonder...
posted by rmmcclay at 3:30 AM on June 25, 2006


More like a lot of people forgot about him when he became known for things like "I Just Called To Say I Love You." He used to be the greatest. Now he's not.
posted by pracowity at 4:20 AM on June 25, 2006


Um...these days Hollywood A-list people are willing to go on Sesame Street for a few seconds with a dozen other stars.

Just to be contrary to this and all the Elmo-haters in the thread, I'd like to point out the life and times of Mr. Noodle's Brother.
posted by thanotopsis at 4:45 AM on June 25, 2006


and just what the hell is wrong with "i just called..."?

defend your assertion -- that that beautiful song of love is deserving of anything less than your total respect and submission -- or else!














or else, i shall be forced to call you a rapscallion.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:06 AM on June 25, 2006


"I still want my puppets too. Why didn't they have dancing puppets?"
You didn't see the orange monster playing bass?
posted by NinjaTadpole at 5:16 AM on June 25, 2006


Also, ow. This exercises musical bits I thought I pawned for modern life.
posted by NinjaTadpole at 5:18 AM on June 25, 2006


"Hi, do you have the song "I Just Called To Say I Love You?" It's for my daughter's birthday.

Yea we have it.

Well, can I have it?

No, actually, you can't.

Why not?

Because it's sentimental tacky crap that's why. Do we look like a store that sells "I Just Called to Say I Love You"? Go to the mall!

What's your problem?!

God, do you even know your daughter? There's no way she likes that song! Oh oh oh wait! Is she in a coma?"



And:

"Rob - top five musical crimes perpetuated by Stevie Wonder in the '80s and '90s? Go.
Sub-question: is it in fact unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter day sins, is it better to burn out or fade away?"
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:21 AM on June 25, 2006


> defend your assertion

When I hear it, I see people skating slow circles in a roller rink under a mirror ball. They all have just eaten boiled wieners and limp fries. They don't know it, but all of them, even smiling Dot in the pink striped dress, have little pieces of pig testicle stuck between their teeth. And I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Of my-y heart. Ba-by of my-y hearrrrrrrrrrrrrrt. Cha cha cha.
posted by pracowity at 5:24 AM on June 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


"Living for the City" does kind of drag there in that part on the bus. Here's Stevie playing a shortened version.
posted by emelenjr at 5:36 AM on June 25, 2006


Speaking of weird music and children matches.... I give you The Smiths on Charlie's Bus in 1984.

Sample dialog:

Little girl: Where are we going?
Morrisey: We're all going mad.
Little girl: I thought we were going to Kew Gardens.
posted by terrapin at 5:36 AM on June 25, 2006


Wonderful. Thanks. I found myself wanting to see Elmo interact with a younger Stevie Wonder. Irrational, I know, but Elmo is the coolest hipster on that show in a long time. Even if some fuddy-duddies did dismiss his classic Elmo's Song at the time.
posted by mmahaffie at 5:55 AM on June 25, 2006


the stinkpile known as "Electric Company."

Wh..

at..

What?!
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:16 AM on June 25, 2006


Living for the City is good, as long as you fast forward through the bus part. I feel your pain, yhbc, I also refound that song in the age of Kazaa, and asked myself "was there always this lame bus ride thing in here?"

Higher Ground is great, but RHCP did a better version.

Superstition is the best song ever written. You should hear my band crank it out, we rock.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:36 AM on June 25, 2006


Let me be the umpteenth to thank you for that amazing clip. I guess its awesomeness is too great for tags!
posted by languagehat at 6:48 AM on June 25, 2006


Also, any drummer in any even mildly funky band is required to have a big-ass afro like that.
posted by softlord at 6:59 AM on June 25, 2006


That was simply The Greatest.

I am now, of course, going to be singing "Superstition" all day, and possibly into tomorrow irritating my coworkers.
posted by verveonica at 7:04 AM on June 25, 2006


I didn't know Ron Jeremy played the trumpet.

Cool link.
posted by Cyrano at 8:17 AM on June 25, 2006


Just to be contrary to this and all the Elmo-haters in the thread, I'd like to point out the life and times of Mr. Noodle's Brother.

For that matter, Mr. Noodle has a Tony. Ditto Mrs. Noodle.

Of course, CTW has always pulled in the Tony winners. And Oscar winners.
posted by dw at 8:28 AM on June 25, 2006


startled at how big the drum sound is for a Flash video. my oh my. love the organ on that one. bestest #1 funk hit ever..... next to Thank You for Lettin me (be Mice Elf) Again
God bless America, and YouTube.

erm, so, is the Big Media totally freaked out by YouTube yet?

thanks
posted by celerystick at 8:44 AM on June 25, 2006


Nice work for a 22-year-old. Stevie Wonder wrote "Superstition" for Jeff Beck, but Wonder's version was so good he released it on his own album. Beck's supergroup Beck, Bogert & Appice did a cover [MP3 sample] the following year. (This page has a link to a Real audio file of Mel Torme's live cover version.) The funky opening riff is done on a clavinet.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:00 AM on June 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Stevie Wonder is a musical genius. I have all his albums.
posted by asok at 9:26 AM on June 25, 2006


That just kicked all kinds of ass.
posted by malaprohibita at 9:32 AM on June 25, 2006


I feel like I just got hit by a busload of funk. Fantastic stuff.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:59 AM on June 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this, New Frontier. Stevie was the man then and still is.

A Time to Love isn't Stevie circa 1976, but it's still a damn sight better than most, his best album in years.

Oh, and if you haven't seen the "classic albums" DVD of "Songs in the Key of Life", see it.
posted by edverb at 10:30 AM on June 25, 2006


Funnily enough, i just got through watching Herbie Hancock demonstrating the Fairlight.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:36 AM on June 25, 2006


... and here's Herbie and Stevie jamming - with Thomas Dolby and Howard Jones - at the 1985 Grammy Awards.
posted by New Frontier at 10:44 AM on June 25, 2006


More? More! I need MORE!
posted by sacre_bleu at 10:44 AM on June 25, 2006


Johnny Cash, "Don't Bring Your Ones To Town"
posted by geoff. at 10:45 AM on June 25, 2006


Higher Ground is great, but RHCP did a better version.

Oh you dirty s.o.b., you go to hell! you go to hell and you die!
posted by papakwanz at 10:49 AM on June 25, 2006


New Frontier....

I wish I had not viewed your link. Now I must purge it from my memory by watching the Sesame Street "Superstition" again, 12 times. It is SO much better.
posted by msacheson at 11:01 AM on June 25, 2006


also, Stevie Ray Vaughan did a mean cover of "Superstition".
posted by msacheson at 11:02 AM on June 25, 2006


Oh. So. Very. Good! Yay!
posted by dejah420 at 11:15 AM on June 25, 2006


msacheson, I can't believe you said that.
posted by wsg at 11:30 AM on June 25, 2006


That 1985 Grammy performance was so strong it made this lady in the front row's head explode.

posted by wsg at 11:45 AM on June 25, 2006


That was fantastic. I didn't know Eddie Murphy could sing!

The Synthesizer Medley with Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones, Herbie Hancock and Steve Wonder is a befuddlement. I like each one of the individual artists, but the combination is like putting BBQ sauce on prime rib. It's not altogether bad, but...
posted by Davenhill at 12:43 PM on June 25, 2006


On at least one occasion broken up companies have gone back into production to make Stevie Wonder a synth if he didn't get ahold of it during the production run (Elka Synthex). Stevie has also worked extensively with many companies who produce synthesizers as a creative consultant / beta tester. He had an ARP 2600 made in braille, the first Emulator, and still buys lots of synths and interacts with the industry.
posted by Sukiari at 1:57 PM on June 25, 2006


This completely rocks - watched it earlier and then bopped around town on my errands.
posted by carter at 2:30 PM on June 25, 2006


Thank you sooooo much for posting this.
posted by raysmj at 2:58 PM on June 25, 2006


I remember seeing this as a kid too, and enjoying it, but not understanding that I'd just witnessed lightning in a bottle. Stevie Wonder is a living legend, but like appearances of Bill Cosby, Soupy Sales, Morgan Freeman, Carol Burnett.. I just took the parade of adult celebrities through Sesame Street for granted. Of course Kermit and Bert and Ernie would rub elbows with people my parents watched. When I was five years old, the muppets were MY celebrities.

Now I have to post what I'd say in one place in two places. This sorta sucks. Not that I'm complainin'... Alright I am!
posted by ZachsMind at 3:04 PM on June 25, 2006


Look for the white kid on the stairs with the shakers halfway through who can't keep rhythm.

I didn't know half of Stevie's band was white, I wonder if stevie did?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 5:51 PM on June 25, 2006


I remember seeing re-runs of that episode as a kid for 2 reasons...that song got my lazy white behind off the couch to dance, and that incredibly funky outfit Stevie had on.
posted by rhythim at 6:03 PM on June 25, 2006


Here's an interesting piece that appeared in "Keyboard" magazine a few months after the 1985 Grammy synthesizer "summit". The performance wasn't live at all: Hancock, Wonder, Dolby, and Jones merely mimed along to a track that they'd pre-recorded over the preceding weeks.
posted by New Frontier at 6:24 PM on June 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Holy. Shit.

I just watched that and got literal chills from my feet up my back about 4 times - it's just, just....oh.

Stevie has been one of my very top favorite artists for years, but I've never actually watched many of his old performances. This makes me fucking weep - we will never, never get that time back.

Work out, Stevie, work out!
posted by tristeza at 7:12 PM on June 25, 2006


This makes me fucking weep - we will never, never get that time back.

The best part of modern technology is whipping up a good funkalicious playlist, and "working out the jive" as an excuse to actually get some exercise. It even works for overweight midwestern white programmers who were in their formative years in the 70s, like me.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:46 PM on June 25, 2006


RE: Grammy synths

My parents used to watch Dick and Ed's Celebrity Practical jokes and they had a bit where Herbie copied the master of the performance tape and put a blank section in the middle. Then when they met before the show to rehearse he freaked Stevie, Howard and Thomas out leading them to think the master was messed up at the last minute.

And I had seen the man behind the curtain and became indifferent to "Live" performances on television.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 8:19 PM on June 25, 2006


I have a theory that Stevie Wonder is still with us, but (like Michael Jackson) writing under pseudonyms. I hear Stevie most clearly in Maroon 5. I swear he writes some of their hits and the singer is parroting his delivery on the demo tapes.
posted by spock at 9:41 PM on June 25, 2006


For those asking about MP3s, it's possible to do it by downloading the .flv file and then using total video converter to convert it to .mp3, .flac or .wav. (Linux users might want to try this).

If you do turn it to a .wav it will be 24 bit so I used dbpoweramp to convert .wav to .wav, which turned it into 16 bit, which dbpoweramp could deal with when converting to other formats.

After all that it was a bit of a disappointment to discover that the 2 second silence at around 2:10 wasn't a streaming pause, but sound drop out on the .flv video.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 1:31 AM on June 26, 2006


yhbc-- the bus sequence isn't that bad. Come on. Plus, "I didn't know!" and "skyscrapers, n'everything" are highly quotable.

Thanks, New Frontier. Well I can't wait... 'til I move to the city
posted by ibmcginty at 6:05 AM on June 26, 2006


Kudos to ibmcginty for correctly divining the inspiration behind my Metafiter nickname!
posted by New Frontier at 6:35 AM on June 26, 2006


is that shuggie otis behind SW with big red gibson?

heard this group live in Tampa w/miles davis pangea band. only one guitarist - the guy playing tele...

i think the reference about today's pop being crap has to do with the NOT singing and playing...SW began to decline when he replaced the members of Wonderlove with 0's and 1's...

clip is top shelf, tho'
posted by aiq at 8:48 AM on June 26, 2006


Question without an answer: why does gifted kid musical prodigy A, let's call him "Little Stevie Wonder," grow up to be Big Stevie Wonder, bona fide pop genius, productive, long career, album after album of great music, everything under control; while gifted kid musical prodigy B, let's call him "M*cha*l J*cks*n," grow up to be, well, you know...?
posted by jfuller at 9:28 AM on June 26, 2006


In another strange wrinkle, that video was posted by ShuckOwens ... which it turns out is Jay Farrar (former front-man of Uncle Tupleo). So musician celebrity endorsed, that clip is.
posted by bclark at 11:44 AM on June 26, 2006


Well Jay just made it private for some reason

*shakes fist
posted by tsarfan at 12:08 PM on June 28, 2006


AAAAAAAHH What the fuuuuuuuuuuuuck! I hadn't gotten to watch it yet and I love Stevie. Dammit! Does anyone know where else to get this?
posted by ibmcginty at 12:11 PM on June 28, 2006


Here's another version of "Superstition" available on Youtube. The picture and sound quality aren't nearly as good as the version to which this Metafilter thread first linked. The video also ends abruptly with about 45 seconds to go.
posted by New Frontier at 1:46 PM on June 28, 2006


Holy crap, thanks for being the go-to resource on this. You've got the right dynamic, New Frontier.
posted by ibmcginty at 2:29 PM on June 28, 2006


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