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Ebony And Ivory

by

Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This is a song about racial harmony, using piano keys as a metaphor. The black keys on a piano are ebony, and the white ones are ivory - the song asks why we all can't lie together in perfect harmony like the keys. (thanks, Jeremy - Seattle, WA)
McCartney wrote this song with the intention of singing it with Wonder, who he admired. It appeared on McCartney's 1982 album Tug Of War.
Beatles producer George Martin produced this track and the rest of the Tug Of War album.
This was a huge hit in the US, staying at #1 for 7 weeks. Listeners quickly tired of the song, however, and it got very little radio play after it dropped off the charts. In the following years, the song was often mocked as superficial and trite, and a stark contrast to the many McCartney and Wonder songs that have stood the test of time. In 2004, Blender magazine ranked this #10 on their list of the worst songs of all time.
In 1982, Saturday Night Live did a skit mocking this song where Joe Piscopo (playing Frank Sinatra) sings it with alternate lyrics along with Eddie Murphy portraying Wonder. Sample lyric: "You are black and I am white, you are blind as a bat and I have sight."
McCartney originally conceived the idea for this song after watching English comedian Spike Milligan playing on a TV show a segregated piano, on which the white and black keys were kept apart, in order to demonstrate how one couldn't work without the other. He subsequently penned the song after a marital tiff with Linda. McCartney said in to Mojo magazine March 2009: "It was like, 'Why can't we get it together- our piano can.'"
In October 2007 BBC 6 Music listeners named this their worst duet ever.
This was Stevie Wonder's first #1 single in the UK. His only other one to date has been "I Just Called To Say I Love You."
Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder recorded the duet together, on the island of Montserrat in the West Indies. However, due to conflicting work schedules, both laid down their parts for the song's music video separately.
Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
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Comments (15):

i also remember psych promo
- Julia, milton, PA
that's depressing. such a beautiful song doesn't deserve top 10 worst songs of all time. or worst duet ever. come on people.
- Julia, milton, PA
you know that we didn't start the fire, kokomo, we built this city, courtesy of the red, white, and blue, the sound of silence, and i'd do anything for love but i won't do that are also on the blender list. WE BUILT THIS CITY is ranked 1. Blender is mentally ill and everyone with any sanity knows it. But if you want a laugh, check out the most crazy musicians ever by blender, youll laugh a lot.
- Adam, York, PA
I am a big Beatles fan, and love most of Paul's solo work. This song has a great message, but I unfortunately agree that it belongs in the top ten worst songs ever.
- Caryn, Satellite Beach, FL
Great example of a song that was an absolute mammoth smash hit when it debuted but that you will never hear on the radio today.
- Jeff, Boston, MA
This is a very good song with a good message.
- OG, Los Angeles, CA
I love the song! I saw the video years ago. I know when I watched Larry King Live,Stevie Wonder Met MLK jr when he was 14,but briefly.On Black to The Future[70s] they were mocking Stevie Wonder.
- Jennifer Harris, Grand Blanc, MI
It is no "wonder" that Paul McCartney admired Stevie Wonder. Paul McCartney has always had a melody in his mind. He was born that way, I think. He really became the driving force for The Beatles. Admit it or not. He is, also, a smart business man...The collaboration was genius. As for the song, I enjoy it very much. It is simple and has a great "harmony" to it. I sing both parts...Love it.
- Sandra, Gardnerville, NV
Something hilarious- James Roday and Dule Hill (co-stars from Psych) sing this in a promo for the new season of Psych, starting July 18th. It's so cheesy it's hilarious!
- Emma, Duxbury, MA
I also like this song, and I don't even normally like soft ballads. The negativity it has received seems to reflect the cynicism of our times: sweet, optimistic tropes about racial harmony have been considered naive and simplistic ever since the decline of the civil rights movement.
- N.I., Baltimore, MD
great video for this , the black prisoner on the chain gang , driving the white warden nuts ,
- pete, nowra, Australia
Glad is just number 10 not the number one worst song ever. But that is still unfair. I love this song!
- Dave, Cebu, Peru
I love this song but why many people mocked this song and what!? this is the number 10 worst song ever in a magazine called Blender Magazine!
- Dave, Cebu, Peru
The irony is, the video parts were filmed seperately - no 'perfect harmony side by side' there. There are so many better anti-racism songs.
- Martin, Eastbourne, England
I like this song. I don't know why so many people don't.
- Ian, Lethbridge, Canada
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