This tune was written by Wonder, who was 16 at the time, together with his mother Lula Mae Hardaway, Motown songwriter Sylvia Moy, and the song's producer Henry Cosby. Wonder's mother co-wrote many of Wonder's songs during her son's teenage years. She was nominated for the 1970 Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for co-penning "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours."
Wonder recalled to the Rock Around The World newspaper that this song, "kind of speaks of my first love to a girl named Angie, who was a very beautiful woman." He added: "Actually, she was my third girlfriend but my first love. I used to call Angie up and, like, we would talk and say, 'I love you, I love you,' and we'd talk and we'd both go to sleep on the phone. And this was like from Detroit to California, right? You know, mother said, 'Boy, what you doing - get off the phone!' Boy, I tell you, it was ridiculous."
Sylvia Moy, who is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, also worked on Wonder's songs "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" and "My Cherie Amour." She says that her inspiration for "I Was Made To Love Her" was stories she heard from her parents - her mother is from Arkansas, which is why Stevie opens the song singing, "I was born in Little Rock."
After his initial success as "Little" Stevie Wonder, he stopped playing harmonica on most of his songs to help shed the image. On this track, Wonder's harmonica came back strong.
Who played bass on this track is a matter of dispute. Motown used top Los Angeles studio musicians like Carol Kaye for some of their recordings at this time, but records of these sessions are either nonexistent or inaccurate, as certain union rules were bypassed to make them happen. Carol has a clear memory of playing on this track, and told us about it. Said Carol: "The first four bars were written, so that thing was pretty straight. The first bar was written to give me an indication of what they wanted the rest of the tune. And then another part I can remember was written - that triad lick was written. And I screwed that one up. (laughing) I mean, you always remember when you make a mistake on the hits. And I made plenty of mistakes, but the feel of the record was good. And that's the main thing. So the rest, I was on my own. No problem, a lot of chromatics and just aiming for the triads and stuff."
Refuting Carol's claims is Allan Slutsky, author of Standing In The Shadows of Motown. His research shows that James Jamerson, who was the bass player of the Motown house band The Funk Brothers, played the bass on this track. All Motown associates he contacted, including the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team, said it was Jamerson, and Hank Crosby, who co-wrote and did production on this song, signed an affidavit saying that the bass line was performed by Jamerson.
Among the artists to cover this song have been The Beach Boys on their 1967 album Wild Honey, Jimi Hendrix (with Wonder on drums) on the BBC Sessions album and Boyz II Men on their 2007 covers album, Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA. Also Whitney Houston made a recording with minor changes, titled "I Was Made To Love Him" on her 1998 album My Love Is Your Love.
This spent four non-consecutive weeks at #1 on the American Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart.
The stunning vocal on this song took some work. Producer Henry Cosby coaxed it out of Wonder by taking him to a Baptist church in Detroit and having Stevie imitate the preacher. The next step was finding Wonder his congregation. "Stevie wanted people in the studio. He had to feel the presence of people," said Cosby. "If there were none around, his vocal was just dead. I had to go outside and just stop people who were passing to bring them in, so Stevie could feel their presence. Once we got that, he could fire into that feeling."
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 4th 1967, "I Was Made To Love You" by Stevie Wonder entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #68; and on July 23nd it peaked at #2 (for 2 weeks) and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100... The two weeks it was at #2 the #1 record for both those weeks was "Light My Fire" by the Doors... And on July 9th, 1967 it reached #1 (for 4 non-consecutive weeks) on Billboard's R&B singles chart ("Make Me Yours" by Bettye Swann was #1 for 2 weeks after its 1st week at #1, then it reclaimed #1 for 3 weeks)... Lula Mae Hardaway, mother of Stevie Wonder, was one of the co-composer of the song (she also co-wrote his Top 100 #3 hit "Signed, Sealed, and Delivered I'm Yours")...... Mr. Wonder, born Stevland Hardaway Judkins, celebrated his 64th birthday one month ago on May 13th, 2014.
Jeremy from Mount Clemens, MiI completely understand the facts regarding the song "I was Made To Lover Her," however I disagree with the believed opening lyrics of the actual first recording. Stevie Wonder is a truly a magical musician and I have heard him on a number of occasions ad lib and or change the lyrics to a song--on the spot. The opening line that is always quoted is "I was born in Lil' Rock," but if you slow down the track or listen very closely you will hear something different. What I hear--and am as certain as possible--is Stevie singing the line, "I was bored and learned Bach..." Stevie's song "Pastime Paradise" begins with an interpolation "which itself drew on the first eight notes and four chords of J.S. Bach's Prelude No. 2 in C minor" (wikipedia). I know most will find this revelation absurd, but I promise you if you really listen to the opening line and leave out what you think is supposed to be there, you will hear, "I was bored and learned Bach...." All subsequent recordings and live performances (as well as covers) all clearly open up with "I was born in Lil' Rock"...but NOT the original recording.
Tanya from La Verne, CaMy baby love me. My baby needs me. Can't get enough of this tune.
Camille from Toronto, OhGuy from Woodinville, I so agree with your comments. I was only nine years old when I first heard this tune, probably the first Stevie Wonder song I ever heard, and I LOVED it. The words, the tune, and the voice: what a winning combinatin!
Guy from Woodinville, WaGreat early Wonder song. Love the line, "You know Stevie ain't gonna leave her"
John from Nashville, TnThe lyrics were co-written by Sylvia Moy. Moy is one of the two African-American women inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame (the other is Valerie Simpson).