Music Monday is a world within itself, with a language we all understand…
Unless you only speak in song lyrics. Then you might not be understandable.
Today’s song, prior to hearing it on Dancing With the Stars years ago, was a song I’d heard and knew the sound of (as well as who sang it), but not the title of the song. Once I found out the name of the song, I wondered who this named individual was that today’s artist sang the praises of.
Yeah, found that out around the same time. Consider me well-informed.
The person mentioned (among others) is Duke Ellington, the song named for him is “Sir Duke,” and the artist singing his praises? Why, Stevie Wonder!
“Sir Duke” is a 1977 single from Wonder’s 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life. And yes, the song is a tribute to Duke Ellington (who died in 1974), and all the greats of Ellington’s era – Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. Wonder wanted to write a song about artists he felt were important, so they wouldn’t be forgotten by others. It was one in a series of tribute songs Wonder would write and perform (including later tributes to Bob Marley and Martin Luther King Jr.).
You know what a tribute song is, but have you heard a tribute song the way Stevie Wonder can sing it? Click play and listen!
“Sir Duke” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1977 (#18 for the Hot 100 chart year-ending 1977), as well as the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs Chart.
Fun fact: at the time, this chart was actually called Billboard’s Black Singles until the name was changed twice within that decade to incorporate the categorized sound of R&B in 1990, and Hip Hop in 1999.
In the era of total disco domination, a little non-disco on the charts went a long way, and Stevie Wonder was in his prime during the 1970s.
I’ve heard this song used as a tribute to perfect-fitting jeans (I think it was Lee used the lyric “you can feel it all over!” in their commercial for Perfect Fit Jeans), and as I said earlier, on Dancing with the Stars (that listen prompted me to download it on iTunes).
As much of a tribute as “Sir Duke” is, the rhythm is fun and light, and possibly the best compliment when paying tribute to someone legendary, whose music set out to change the way we listen. Stevie Wonder was merely keeping that torch going, and we’re still listening today.
May all your listening experiences be felt all over, every single day!
Have a great Monday, and enjoy the music!