Track of the Week: “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
August 10, 2011 2 Comments
“Superstition” by Stevie Wonder has been covered by dozens of artists on various instruments since its release in 1972. Despite the fact that Stevie Wonder is a keyboard player, “Superstition” has fascinated guitarists most of all. Why? Because Stevie Wonder played the main riff on a clavinet, an instrument that uses a piano-style keyboard to actuate a hammer that strikes a guitar-like string against a fret. It’s basically a piano that plays a hammer-on technique like a guitarist would. The clavinet even uses guitar-like pickups to capture the sound and it can be played through a guitar amp! Needless to say, the clavinet sounds like a guitar and it has inspired several guitarists to learn to play “Superstition” on the guitar.
Even though “Superstition” has been covered by big-name guitarists, it was an 9-year old student of mine who got me excited about “Superstition.” Let’s take a look at Stevie Wonder’s original version, and three of my favorite guitar versions.
This is the version that started it all. Great groove, fantastic melody, and a synthesized horn section! Who could beat that? You’ll see…
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
I really like this version, but SRV songs rarely descend into the “I really like it” tier. Most of his covers are better than this. I feel like Stevie Ray missed the clavinet’s groove. Stevie Ray’s version is less bouncy and staccato than the original. Overall, I like the cover. Just not his best.
Stick with this video through the somewhat unfunny banter and you’ll be rewarded with an amazing version of “Superstition.”
I saved the best for last. Will is a student of mine who started working with me in March of 2011. His previous guitar instructor was leaving town and Will needed a new instructor so his mom found me. Will learned “Superstition” under his previous instructor. When Will played it for me at our first lesson, it blew me away. I immediately realized that I was dealing with a super-talented young man. I helped him refine the song in the months since, but the performance you see below is the result of Will’s practice and dedication to the guitar. He’s clearly passionate about music which is amazing since 9-year olds are rarely passionate about anything. How many 9-year olds have “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who on their iPod? Not many.
I’d also like to point out that Will is one cool cat. Notice how calm he is when he is getting his guitar and amp in order on stage before the performance. Will looks like a seasoned pro up there.
It has been a pleasure working with Will and I can’t wait to see what else he can do. I also owe my rekindled fondness for “Superstition” to him. Thanks Will! You inspire me!
For more information about me and the guitar lessons that I give in and around Baltimore, visit www.ewguitar.com.