Discord & Rhyme: An Album Podcast

Discord and Rhyme is a podcast where we discuss the albums we love, song by song.

A music podcast where we discuss our favorite albums, song by song. Main episodes every other Tuesday on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play, with bonus episodes in between.

019: Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

“Nobody can say they aren't influenced by what Stevie Wonder has done.”

—Brian McKnight

Good morn and evening, friends, and get ready for a super-sized episode. Stevie Wonder has a deep catalog of classic, beloved LPs, but since this week’s host, Ben, follows the “because it’s there” approach to choosing albums for this podcast, we’re tackling the longest, most epic one of all: 1976’s Songs in the Key of Life. Encompassing two LPs and a bonus EP, Songs is “massive and meant to be massive,” Ben argues to co-hosts Phil, Mike, and John — and just look at the list of personnel if you don’t believe us. Even if not every song lands, the album is such a mountain range of joyous musical peaks that you’re likely going to emerge from it adoring at least a dozen tracks. Plus, ‘90s kids will recognize the source material for both Coolio’s legendary anthem “Gangsta’s Paradise” and Will Smith’s much less legendary soundtrack cash-in “Wild Wild West.” This one might take you a few commutes, but if you’ve somehow not yet experienced the music of Stevie Wonder, we promise you’re about to have a new favorite artist.

Miscellany

  • As John teased, Stevie Wonder has too much great music to contain to one episode, and we’re eventually planning on covering his 1973 masterpiece Innervisions — though not quite yet.

  • In one of the Grammy Awards’ more baffling decisions, Jethro Tull won Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance in 1989. When Metallica won the same award in 1990, Lars Ulrich thanked Jethro Tull for not putting out an album that year.

  • The year Stevie decided to step back and let somebody else have a turn at the Grammys, Paul Simon won for Still Crazy After All These Years.

  • Songs in the Key of Life was originally meant to be released in 1975, but Stevie decided at the last minute to remix several of the songs, so it was pushed back. Motown put out t-shirts reading “WE’RE ALMOST FINISHED” to promote it during the delay.

  • “Fingertips Pt. 2,” Stevie’s first hit, was recorded when he was only 12.

Links

Discord & Rhyme roll call

  • Ben Marlin (host)

  • Phil Maddox (moderator)

  • Mike DeFabio

  • John McFerrin

Songs in the Key of Life tracklist

LP/Disc 1:

  1. Love’s in Need of Love Today

  2. Have a Talk with God

  3. Village Ghetto Land

  4. Contusion

  5. Sir Duke

  6. I Wish

  7. Knocks Me Off My Feet

  8. Pastime Paradise

  9. Summer Soft

  10. Ordinary Pain

LP/Disc 2:

  1. Isn’t She Lovely

  2. Joy Inside My Tears

  3. Black Man

  4. Ngiculela – Es Una Historia – I Am Singing

  5. If It’s Magic

  6. As

  7. Another Star

A Something’s Extra EP:

  1. Saturn

  2. Ebony Eyes

  3. All Day Sucker

  4. Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)

Other clips used

Stevie Wonder:

  • I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)

  • Uptight (Everything’s Alright)

  • Fingertips - Pt. 2

  • If You Really Love Me

  • Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away

  • You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

  • My Love Is With You

  • Maybe Your Baby

Others:

  • Mark Snow - Materia Primoris

  • The Simpsons - We Do

  • Shooby Taylor - Stout-Hearted Men

  • Venetian Snares - Banana Seat Girl

  • Weather Report - Seventh Arrow

  • Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention - Andy

  • Jeff Beck - Scatterbrain

  • A Tribe Called Quest - Footprints

  • Will Smith - Wild Wild West

  • Coolio - Gangsta’s Paradise

  • “Weird Al” Yankovic - Amish Paradise

  • Dorothy Ashby - Soul Vibrations

Songs we mentioned but didn’t clip

Stevie Wonder:

  • I Just Called to Say I Love You

  • I Was Made to Love Her

  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)

  • Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday

  • My Cherie Amour

  • Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)

  • Superstition

  • Golden Lady

  • Creepin’

  • Visions

  • Living For the City

  • Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing

  • Higher Ground

Others:

  • Peter Frampton - I Believe (When I Fall in Love with You It Will Be Forever)

  • Joe Walsh - Life’s Been Good

  • Pink Floyd - Obscured By Clouds

  • Neil Young - Sample and Hold

  • Bob Drake - On the Research of the Comparative Chemistries of the Defensive Sprays of the Spotted and Striped Skunks

  • The Jackson 5 - I Want You Back

  • Sly & the Family Stone - Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

  • Celine Dion - I Wish

  • The Moody Blues - Procession

  • The Beach Boys - I Wanna Pick You Up

  • Creed - With Arms Wide Open

  • Vangelis - Chariots of Fire

  • Pink Floyd - Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2

  • Yes - Yours Is No Disgrace

  • Yes - Close to the Edge

  • Rufus feat. Chaka Khan - Tell Me Something Good

  • Led Zeppelin - Trampled Under Foot

  • Led Zeppelin - Gallows Pole

  • Jethro Tull - Round

  • Jethro Tull - Grace

  • The Beatles - Her Majesty

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - They’re Red Hot

  • The Beatles - Wild Honey Pie

  • Led Zeppelin - Hats Off to (Roy) Harper

  • Phish - Boogie On Reggae Woman

Band/album personnel*

  • Stevie Wonder – harmonica, arranger, keyboards, programming, vocals, drums

  • Michael Sembello – guitar

  • Sneaky Pete Kleinow – pedal steel

  • George Benson – guitar, vocals

  • Ronnie Foster – organ

  • Herbie Hancock – keyboards, handclapping

  • Dean Parks – guitar

  • Greg Phillinganes – keyboards

  • W. G. "Snuffy" Walden – guitar

  • Nathan Watts – bass guitar, vocals, handclapping

  • Greg Brown – drums

  • Raymond Lee Pounds – drums

  • Hank Redd – alto and tenor saxophone

  • George Bohannon – trombone

  • Ben Bridges – guitar, sitar

  • Dorothy Ashby – harp

  • Bobbi Humphrey – flute

  • Howard "Buzzy" Feiten – guitar

  • Steve Madaio – trumpet

  • Trevor Lawrence – tenor saxophone

  • Glen Ferris – trombone

  • Jim Horn – saxophone

  • Deniece Williams – vocals

  • Minnie Riperton – vocals

  • Gary Byrd – vocals

  • Michael Wycoff – vocals

  • Larry Scott – sound effects

  • Carol Cole – percussion

  • Bobbye Hall – percussion

  • Jay Boy Adams – vocals

  • Nathan Alford, Jr. – percussion

  • Henry America – vocals

  • Linda America – vocals

  • Baradras – vocals

  • Brenda Barnett – vocals

  • Khalif Bobatoon – vocals

  • Starshemah Bobatoon – vocals

  • Sudana Bobatoon – vocals

  • Charles Brewer – percussion, programming, vocals

  • Shirley Brewer – percussion, vocals, speaking part

  • Berry Briges – vocals

  • Cecilia Brown – vocals

  • Eddie "Bongo" Brown – percussion

  • Jean Brown – vocals

  • Rodney Brown – vocals

  • Colleen Carleton – percussion, vocals

  • Addie Cox – vocals

  • Agnideva Dasa – vocals

  • Duryodhana Guru Dasa – vocals

  • Jayasacinandana Dasa – vocals

  • Jitamrtyi Dasa – vocals

  • Vedavyasa Dasa – vocals

  • Cinmayi Dasi – vocals

  • Yogamaya Dasi – vocals

  • Carolyn Dennis – vocals

  • Bhakta Eddie – vocals

  • Doe Rani Edwards – vocals

  • Jacqueline F. English – vocals

  • Ethel Enoex – vocals

  • Al Jocko Fann – vocals

  • Barbara Fann – vocals

  • Melani Fann – vocals

  • Shelley Fann – vocals

  • Tracy Fann – vocals

  • John Fischbach – percussion, programming, vocals, engineer

  • Susie Fuzzell – vocals

  • Carmelo Garcia – percussion, timbales

  • Anthony Givens – vocals

  • Audrey Givens – vocals

  • Derrick Givens – vocals

  • Mildred Givens – vocals

  • Michael Lee Gray – vocals

  • Mimi Green – vocals

  • Susaye Greene Brown – vocals

  • Bhakta Gregory – vocals

  • Renee Hardaway – percussion, vocals

  • John Harris – sound effects

  • Jeania Harris – vocals

  • John Harris – programming

  • Troy Harris – vocals

  • Nelson Hayes – percussion, sound effects, vocals

  • Terry Hendricks – vocals

  • H. David Henson – assistant engineer

  • Don Hunter – programming, sound effects

  • Adrian Janes – vocals

  • Josie James – vocals

  • Calvin Johnson – vocals

  • Carol Johnson – vocals

  • Patricia Johnson – vocals

  • Madelaine Jones – vocals

  • Bhakta Kevin – vocals

  • Phillip Kimble – vocals

  • James Lambert – vocals

  • Linda Lawrence – vocals

  • Irma Leslie – vocals

  • Kim Lewis – vocals

  • Carl Lockhart – vocals

  • Gail Lockhart – vocals

  • Raymond Maldonado – percussion, trumpet

  • Carolyn Massenburg – vocals

  • Article May – vocals

  • Charity McCrary – vocals

  • Linda McCrary-Campbell – vocals

  • Lonnie Morgan – vocals

  • Kim Nixon – vocals

  • Lisa Nixon – vocals

  • Larri Nuckens – vocals

  • Larry Latimer – percussion, vocals

  • Amale Mathews – percussion, vocals

  • Gary Olazabal – engineer, bass sound

  • Edna Orso – percussion, vocals

  • Marietta Waters – percussion, vocals

  • Josette Valentino – percussion, vocals, handclapping

  • Gwen Perry – vocals

  • Gregory Rudd – vocals

  • Rukmini – vocals

  • Yolanda Simmons – vocals, handclapping

  • Keith Slaughter – vocals

  • Rosona Starks – vocals

  • Dennis Swindell – vocals

  • Sundray Tucker – vocals

  • Gary Veney – vocals

  • Sheryl Walker – vocals

  • Mary Lee Whitney – vocals

  • Syreeta Wright – vocals

  • Michael Gray – vocals

  • William Moore – vocals

  • Fountain Jones – programming

  • Aisha Morris – crying on "Isn't She Lovely"

*Ben was not kidding about the number of people on this album

Credits

“Discord & Rhyme (theme),” composed by the Other Leading Brand, contains elements of:

  • Amon Düül II - Dehypnotized Toothpaste

  • The Dukes of Stratosphear - What in the World?? ...

  • Faith No More - Midlife Crisis

  • Herbie Hancock - Hornets

  • Kraftwerk - Autobahn

  • Talking Heads - Seen and Not Seen

  • Stevie Wonder - All Day Sucker (this episode only)

You can buy or stream Songs in the Key of Life and other albums by Stevie Wonder at the usual suspects such as Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon. Follow Discord & Rhyme on Twitter @DiscordPod for news, updates, and other random stuff. Follow Ben @BenjaminM1019, John @tarkus1980, Phil @pamaddox, and Mike isn’t on Twitter because he got too many contusions. Special thanks to our own Mike DeFabio, the Other Leading Brand, for production, editing, and knowing everything about all the instruments. See you next album, and be ever wonderful.


UP NEXT

Amanda is going back to the T-Bone Burnett well to talk about one of her very favorite albums, this lovely and unlikely collaboration between two wildly different singers. Burnett found the common ground between Led Zeppelin’s electric blues and Alison Krauss’s twangy bluegrass, and the result is far more beautiful than anyone suspected it could be. Hear it for yourself, along with Amanda, Will, Rich, and John, on April 2.