♫ For Once In My Life ♫

Written by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden for Motown Records’ Stein & Van Stock publishing company, the song was first recorded in 1965 by Barbara McNair, but was first released the following year by Jean DuShon.  Other early versions of the ballad were issued by The Four Tops, The Temptations, Diana Ross and Tony Bennett, whose recording was the first to reach the pop charts.  And then came Stevie …

All versions of the song to this point were long, drawn-out ballads. Stevie Wonder was the first to pick up the tempo and use a joyful arrangement. Wonder’s version, however, sat in the Motown vaults for nearly a year before being released in 1968.  Why?  Because Berry Gordy did not like Stevie’s version.  Gordy vetoed the single’s release, and the recording was shelved. Billie Jean Brown, the head of the Motown Quality Control department, finally coerced Gordy into allowing Wonder’s version to be released in October 1968.

Stevie’s version became the hit record and definitive version of the song, the one most people think of first.

For Once in My Life
Stevie Wonder

For once in my life
I have someone who needs me
Someone I have needed so long
For once unafraid
I can go where life leads me
And somehow I know I’ll be strong

For once I can touch
What my heart used to dream of
Long before I knew
Someone warm like you
Would make my dreams come true

For once in my life
I won’t let sorrow hurt me
Not like it’s hurt me before
For once I have something
I know won’t desert me
I’m not alone anymore

For once I can say
“This is mine, you can’t take it”
Long as I know I have love
I can make it
For once in my life
I have someone who needs me

For once I can say
“This is mine, you can’t take it”
As long as I know I have love
I can make it
For once in my life
I have someone
Someone who needs me

Songwriters: Miller Ronald Norman / MURDEN ORLANDO
For Once in My Life lyrics © Jobete Music Co. Inc., Stone Diamond Music Corp., Ipanema Music, Corcovado Music Corporation, Emi Music Publishing France, Tunecore Publishing, JOBETE MUSIC CO INC, REACH MUSIC PUBLISHING-DIGITAL OBO BELLBOTTOMS AND BEER MUSI, EMI MILLER CATALOG INC, UNIVERSAL-MCA MUSIC PUBLIS OBO UNIVERSAL – MCA MUSIC PUBL.,, VM ENTERPRISES, INC., SADAIC LATIN COPYRIGHTS OBO SACVEN VENEZUELA, STONE DIAMOND MUSIC CORP

6 thoughts on “♫ For Once In My Life ♫

  1. I never even knew about the earlier recordings, but I cannot imagine this song as a ballad, it needs to be upbeat, and I thank Stevie for recognizing that. As for Berry Gordy shelving it, I am not surprised. He liked safe music, music that could be recorded over and over by different groups, making money by re-selling old hits. We have a lot to thank Berry for, he made the Motown sound, and we all still love it all these years later, but he shelved a lot of music that was probably better than the stuff he released, just because it did not fit his formula, as this song did not.
    Fortunately someone saw what Gordy could not, that real talent makes hits, not formulaic music. How many more “huge hits” never got released? We will never know.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree … this is the only version, in my mind. I considered checking out some of the earlier versions, but it was late and I was tired, so I shelved the idea. Like you, I respect and admire Berry Gordy for Motown is my favourite sound, or one of them anyway, and he promoted a lot of great music. However, it does seem that he got a bit arrogant somewhere along the line and if HE didn’t like it, it didn’t happen. Except in a few cases like this one. You’re right, we’ll likely never know how many songs might have become beloved memories that were shelved on Mr. Gordy’s whim.

      Like

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