♫ Pastime Paradise ♫

A dear friend, whose name I shall not say except to note that the first and last letters of his first name are the same, shot this song into my brain last night, whereby it lodged and refused to budge.  All day, I have been humming or whistling this song, and so … sigh … sorry folks, but from my brain to yours it goes …

Pastime Paradise was first released on Songs in the Key of Life, which has become Stevie Wonder’s most highly praised album. Michael Jackson considered it Wonder’s best, whilst Elton John told interviewers it was “the best album ever made,” a sentiment shared by many in the listening public.

When one thinks of Stevie Wonder, “joy” is the operative word, but in Pastime Paradise the synthesizer strings – one of the first novel attempts at using this sort of string-synthesis in a song – create an edgy atmosphere of anxiety, substantiated by the lyrics which are insistently negative in tone until the final stanza. A combination of issues, from race and religion to the economy are vaguely alluded to by using catchwords like “Race Relations” and “Exploitation” without any further explanation. Anyone that would have been hearing these words in 1976 at the tail-end of the Black Power movement (1965-1975) would know exactly what they were referring to. However, Wonder’s final statement defines the actual message of the song: “Let’s start living our lives, living for the future paradise,” as opposed to living in the unhappy past, or the illusory future in order to escape present social issues.

Pastime Paradise
Stevie Wonder

They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a pastime paradise
They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a pastime paradise
They’ve been wasting most their time
Glorifying days long gone behind
They’ve been wasting most their days
In remembrance of ignorance oldest praise

Tell me who of them will come to be
How many of them are you and me
Dissipation
Race relations
Consolation
Segregation
Dispensation
Isolation
Exploitation
Mutilation
Mutations
Miscreation
Confirmation, to the evils of the world

They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise
They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise
They’ve been looking in their minds
For the day that sorrows gone from time
They keep telling of the day
When the savior of love will come to stay

Tell me who of them will come to be
How many of them are you and me
Proclamation
Of race relations
Consolation
Integration
Verification
Of revelations
Acclamation
World salvation
Vibrations
Stimulation
Confirmation, to the peace of the world

They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a pastime paradise
They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a pastime paradise
They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise
They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise
We’ve been spending too much of our lives
Living in a pastime paradise

Let’s start living our lives
Living for the future paradise
Praise to our lives
Living for the future paradise
Shame to anyone’s lives
Living in the pastime paradise

Songwriters: Stevie Wonder
Pastime Paradise lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

17 thoughts on “♫ Pastime Paradise ♫

  1. Good song. However, more people from my generation only know that song because it was the main sample for Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio. To be fair, at least he gave credit and royalties to Stevie Wonder unlike other creators I can think of. Haha!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Oh, really? Yeah, that was a HUGE song in the 90s and it was the first rap song to be a #1 year end hit (rather the most played song on American radio) on Billboard in 1995. It was originally made for the movie Dangerous Minds, but the song is more famous than the movie it’s from kind of like “The Prayer” from Quest for Camelot. Haha!

        Don’t feel bad about not knowing the song.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wow! Can’t believe I missed that, but in 1995 I was working 12-14 hour days and raising a granddaughter in my ‘spare’ time, so I probably only listened to music in the car on the way to and fro work, and even then, I listened to soft rock stations. Ah well …

          Liked by 1 person

          • Gotcha. That explains it since you won’t hear Coolio on a soft rock station. Granted, I wasn’t allowed to listen to him during my childhood around that time, but Gangsta’s Paradise has no profanity in it because Stevie Wonder wasn’t going to loan out his sample if there were swears in it. I did find it very bizarre when that song was used in that upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie. @___@

            Liked by 1 person

            • That IS funny!!! My granddaughter, who is a huge Sonic fan, confirmed what you said and as soon as I began reading your comment to her, she knew exactly what you were talking about and said yes, she had seen the trailer for that movie and that it is so. Sigh. A kids’ cartoon, for Pete’s sake!!!

              Liked by 1 person

              • Hahaha! I’m glad you see the humor, too. Sonic was one of my favorite games growing up during my childhood. I thought his movie design looked weird though. Even stranger was Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik which makes no sense to me. When my little sister showed me the trailer after I was ranting about the rampant trend of live action remakes coming out this year especially that of 90s nostalgia, both of us said “Why is Gangsta’s Paradise involved with Sonic? This makes no sense!”. Hahaha! It’s good your granddaughter knows what I’m talking about. I seriously don’t get how or why they used the song in the trailer. Mainstream movie makers make no sense.

                Liked by 1 person

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