Album: Fullfillingness’ First Finale
. . .
Life moved fast in 1974: if the anti Nixon sentiments of “He’s Misstra Know-It-All” weren’t quite fit to release as a single in the spring, there were no such qualms by summer, as Wonder’s utterly vicious screed — the aural equivalent of what Hunter S. Thompson was writing about the man — “You Haven’t Done Nothin'” was released as the lead single from his 1974 album, Fullfillingness’ First Finale.
“You Haven’t Done Nothin'” opened with a misdirect: a spiraling keyboard flourish which got your attention for sure, but almost instantly gave way to another tough as nails keyboard-driven hard funk groove, driven by hi-hats and drum machines; a perfect backdrop for the utterly pointed lyrics.
We are amazed but not amused
By all the things you say that you’ll do
Though much concerned but not involved
With decisions that are made by you
“We are amazed but not amused” is an absolutely killer opening line, and it’s only topped by the third verse, which features his actual best singing.
We would not care to wake up to the nightmare
That’s becoming real life, mmm
But when misled who knows a person’s mind
Can turn as cold as ice, mmm hmm
The lack of a actual drummer added a weird tension to “You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” the feel like it was fighting against itself the whole time, especially on the chorus:
But we are sick and tired of hearing your song
Telling how you are gonna change right from wrong
‘Cause if you really want to hear our views
“You haven’t done nothin’!'”
One of the great things about “You Haven’t Done Nothin'” is that Stevie uses “we” throughout instead of “I,” setting himself as a conduit for the people: listen Tricky Dick, it’s not just me who things this, everybody thinks this. Also helping: the horns, which were probably synthesized, but still added power and frisson to the whole thing, as do the backing vocals, handled by the Jackson Five, who who were introduced by Wonder after the second chorus in order to sing:
(Doo doo wop) hey hey hey
(Doo doo wop) oh whoa whoa
(Doo doo wop) mmm now now
(Doo doo wop) oh oh oh
(Doo doo wop) dum dum dum
(Doo doo wop)
The Jacksons — who’d just had their first massive hit since 1971 with “Dancing Machine” — dominated the outro, as Stevie’s vocal riffing over their incessant “do do wops” took “You Haven’t Done Nothin'” to its fade. How great was this song? Two days after it was released, Richard Nixon resigned, because Wonder had shamed him so much. Wait a second, I’m hearing that there might have been other reasons that Nixon resigned, but that doesn’t seem right.
In any event, after the (relative) misfire of “Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing,” — his only single between “Superstition” & “Sir Duke” that didn’t make the top ten — there was no denying “You Haven’t Done Nothin'”, and it became Stevie Wonder’s fourth #1 single on the Billboard Hot #100, and it wouldn’t be his last.
“You Haven’t Done Nothin'”
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