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

Album: Talking Book (1972)
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  • This song starts as bleak as can be:

    Shattered dreams, worthless years
    Here am I encased inside a hollow shell

    But by the end, Stevie Wonder is exultant, having found the love of his life. He makes it clear that God has answered his prayers, and it sounds like he could be singing about God, but then he drops these lines:

    You're the woman I've been waiting for
    Come on, let's fall in love
    You're the girl that I really adore

    So it seems he's singing about a girl after all.
  • So who is the lady Stevie Wonder is singing about in "I Believe"? Well, it's complicated. Around this time he was married to Syreeta Wright, a fellow singer-songwriter he met at Motown Records. They wrote several songs together, including two others from the Talking Book album.

    But Wonder wrote this song with Yvonne Wright, also a singer-songwriter and possibly a romantic interest for Wonder. Amazingly, Yvonne and Syreeta were not related.

    Wonder knew Yvonne before he married Syreeta in 1971. Sometime in 1972, Wonder and Syreeta reportedly divorced, although they kept working together and Syreeta said they didn't officially spilt until 1974.

    The most clear-eyed account of this love triangle that we've seen comes from a 1974 profile and interview with Wonder by Robin Katz, who wrote:

    When he told Yvonne of his intention to marry Syreeta, Yvonne pointed out their astrological differences. But Stevie went ahead. "I don't like forward or dominating women too much, because I am too much like that myself. I like any woman who is going to be with me to do what I need. I say love is free, not that they should be doing it with everybody else. Excitement to me is making love with a person you dig."

    It's worth noting that Wonder was just 22 when he released this song. He and Yvonne wrote another song on the album as well, "You've Got It Bad Girl."
  • The calliope of sounds on this song all came from Wonder. He had a remarkable talent for altering his voice without compromise, so he could sound like different singers within the same song, as he did here. The music he made with a combination of Clavinet, piano, Moog bass and drums, set up in the studio by his engineers, Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff, who created a system for Wonder to record with easy access to all his instruments. Wonder had already made a huge impact in his 10 years in the music industry, but he was entering a new phase that was just mind-blowing in its innovation. His next few albums - Innervisions, Fulfillingness' First Finale, and Songs In The Key Of Life - are widely acclaimed as some of the best in music history.
  • "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)" wasn't released as a single but it closes out the Talking Book album and stands as one of Wonder's best-loved songs. It's been covered by Art Garfunkel, Peter Frampton, Josh Groban, George Michael, Sergio Mendes, John Mayer and many others.
  • In the 2000 movie High Fidelity John Cusack's character makes it the first track of his killer mixtape for his girlfriend. As he plays it, it leads into the end credits.

    Earlier in the film, there's a scene where Jack Black's character berates a patron in the record store for asking for Wonder's song "I Just Called To Say I Love You," calling it a "musical crime."

    The song also plays in the TV series version of the film in the 2020 episode "The Other Side of the Rock."


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