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‘You Haven’t Done Nothin”: Stevie Wonder Speaks Out With Soul

‘I’m sick and tired of all their lies,’ said Stevie as his politically motivated ‘You Haven’t Done Nothin” was released.

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You Havent Done Nothin Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder knew how to make a powerful political point and get it on the radio. When he sent out his scornful denunciation of the politicians of the day in 1974, “You Haven’t Done Nothin’”, went all the way to No.1 on both the American R&B and pop charts.

On August 3, 1974, Stevie entered the Billboard Hot 100 (the soul chart entry came a week later) with the brilliant and courageous single. It was new on the pop survey in the same week as Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe,” which you can read about here. By September, Stevie was replacing Barry at the top of the R&B listings for what was already his tenth No.1. By November, “Nothin’’’ was his fourth pop chart-topper.

Soul amid turmoil

Lyrically, the track was a withering criticism of the political status quo, issued at a time when Wonder had begun to state his opinions loudly and clearly. With America in the turmoil of the Watergate scandal, it was perfectly clear that Stevie’s contempt was aimed fairly and squarely at President Richard Nixon. Two weeks after “You Haven’t Done Nothin’’’ was released, Nixon was forced to resign the Presidency.

“Everybody promises you everything,” said Stevie furiously when the single was released, “but in the end, nothing comes out of it. I don’t vote for anybody until after they have really done something that I know about…you always hear the President or people say that they are doing all they can. And they feed you with hopes for years and years…I’m sick and tired of all their lies.”

Party in the studio

Powerful words indeed, but he was a master of making the message not only palatable but infectious and exciting. He wrapped it up inside a propulsive, horn and synth-laden funk workout with the extra attraction of backing vocals by none other than the Jackson 5. “There was a party-like atmosphere [in the studio],” said associate producer Bob Margouleff. “Everyone was so blown away with the harmonies they did.”

“You Haven’t Done Nothin’” was the first single from another superb LP in Stevie’s growing body of achievements, Fulfillingness’ First Finale. The record went on to win three Grammys including Album of the Year.

“You Haven’t Done Nothin’” is on Fulfillingness’ First Finale, which can be bought here.

Listen-Buy

Follow the official Stevie Wonder Best Of playlist.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Tom McGee

    August 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Anything Stevie does musically, I’m interested to hear, for I know he will speak on the issues of our time!

    His creativity always surprises and inspires me!

    Don’t take so long Stevie!! Send us some new music!! Thanks

  2. Gary Veney

    August 3, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Keep up the good works !’

  3. Kumar

    August 4, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Politicians are as bad or worse than they were 40 years ago. But no impeachments are coming any time soon. People are indifferent to what is happening in the nation and people’s ignorance is our political leadership’s magic carpet to irresponsible borrowing and uncontrolled spending. It’s time Mr. Wonder releases a new album expounding the current sad truth about all politicians.

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