You Are The Sunshine Of My Life

Album: Talking Book (1972)
Charted: 7 1
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  • The sunshine of Stevie Wonder's life when he wrote this song was Syreeta Wright, whom he married in 1970. Wright, who started at Motown Records as a secretary, co-wrote Wonder's hit "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" that same year, and also all nine songs on Stevie's 1971 album Where I'm Coming From. Wonder produced her debut album Syreeta in 1972 and her next one, Stevie Wonder Presents: Syreeta, in 1974.

    Some sources list the couple's divorce as happening in 1972, but Wright, who died in 2004, claimed they were married until 1975. The marriage was difficult, and exacerbated by their working relationship, which Wright found stifling. "I was always living in his shadow," she said.

    "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" finds wonder expressing his devotion to Syreeta - it's a husband looking upon his now-familiar wife and remembering why he loves her and always will. It didn't work out for this couple, but the sentiment was irrefutable. The song remains a heartfelt expression of undying love.
  • Wonder recorded this song impromptu at Electric Lady Studios in New York City, which he would keep booked when he was in the area. His band at the time included Ray Parker Jr. on guitar, Scott Edwards on bass, Keith Copeland on drums, and Steve Madaio, Trevor Lawrence and David Sanborn on horns. In a Songfacts interview, Edwards said: "He had been working with the structure by himself. But once he had all of us together, he just started playing it. And then we all joined in and we all could feel that the vibe and the way the tune was going, it was a hit. He was so excited, he said, 'Tonight we're going to the studio and record it.' And that's what we did."

    Wonder played many of his own instruments on Talking Book, but the album was one of the first to include musician credits, so we know who made it to wax on this track. The personnel were Edwards on bass, Daniel Ben Zebulon on congas, and Wonder on Fender Rhodes electric piano and drums. The male vocalist who first sings on the track is Jim Gilstrap, and the female singer who follows is Lani Groves - both were backup singers in his band. Stevie is the third singer heard on the track.
  • Marvin Gaye, whose "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" dealt with spirituality and the Earth, cited this song as an example of how the environment impacts songwriting. He told Sounds magazine in 1976: "A lot of the time, they don't even know it as writers, but they're just forced to put Mother Nature into the picture, like in 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life.'"
  • This song won Wonder the 1973 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
  • This was one of just two singles from the Talking Book album. The fist single, "Superstition," also hit #1 in the US.

Comments: 14

  • Michael from Gold Coast AustraliaBeautiful song, love playing it amazing it was recorded fifty yrs ago, better than anything around these days
  • Ken from Victorville, CaJerry from Brooklyn is correct. Stevie said that Morgana King's version is his favorite. Next to the original, Morgana's version is my favorite as well. It is absolutely beautiful. If you haven't heard it, you owe it to yourself.
  • Luke Lee from London, UkThis song is pure earworm.
  • Adrian Chan from MalaysiaDidn't realize that there were backup singers on this track. All the while I thought it was Stevie singing throughout by changing his voice from rough and husky to an effeminate one.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 11th 1973, "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" by Stevie Wonder entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #76; and nine weeks later on May 13th, 1973 it peaked at #1 {for 1 week} and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on April 22nd, 1973 it also reached #1 {for 2 weeks} on Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    On both the Top 100 and Adult Contemporary charts it replaced "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" by Dawn Featuring Tony Orlando at #1...
    Mr. Wonder's "Superstition" proceeded "Sunshine" on the Top 100 chart; and it also peaked at #1.
  • Jim from Glasgle, BotswanaDidn't think Stevie could play guitar. Is that right?
  • Camille from Toronto, OhSo many of Stevie Wonder's songs, this one included, evoke such positive, breezy emotions, like a Saturday in the park on a warm, sunny day. Stevie Wonder is an incredible artist/musician and we are all blessed to have his music to listen to!
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaLet me state it here: THIS IS ONE OF THE TOP POP SONGS OF ALL TIME. It is pure perfection. Who can resist singing "ba-by" with Stevie towards the end of the song? THANK YOU, DAVE for telling me who sang the first two lines! I have spent most of my filetime wondering if it was Stevie having some fun, or two other singers.
  • John from Nashville, TnThe single version of this song features an overdubbed horn section.
  • Linny from Harrisburg, PaThis is one of my top 5 faves of all time. Everytime I hear this song, it makes me smile.
  • Dave from Scottsdale, AzThe first two lines of this song are sung by James Gilstrap and Lani Groves respectively. I always thought it was Stevie trying to sound like a group.....
  • Goodman from Cleveland, OhActually to correct the first comment, stevie wrote this song for his "girlfriend" on the side not Syreeta who was his wife. They split up before this song was released. Another note, Stevie considered adding this song and superstition to the album that would become Innervisions. Could you imagine that album with this song and Superstition? Wow.
  • Colin from Clacton-on-sea, EnglandJust a correction to the first comment. Stevie Wonder wrote the song for his wife Syreeta Wright. They married in 1970, but divorced in 1972, although remained friends, as Wonder produced a lot of her material.
  • Jerry from Brooklyn, NyMorgana King, the actress-singer best known for her role as Mama Corleone in the Godfather movies, made a marvelous recording of this song which I heard Stevie rave about in an interview. Her voice is semi-operatic and she does some truly surprising vocal acrobatics with the song.
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