“All In Love Is Fair” by Stevie Wonder (1973)

…and here’s Stevie again.

Innervisions and Sign o’ the Times run neck and neck for the title of my favorite album. “Adore” is unquestionably my favorite song from the latter album. As of the time I write this (11:53 on August 27th), “All In Love Is Fair” is my favorite song from Innervisions.

I’ve been reading the Wikipedia entries for each song I add to this list, mainly to jog my memory when it comes to historical facts. There’s not much to say about “All In Love Is Fair” from that perspective, other than that a) while “Fair” has become something of a standard, Stevie never released it as a single in the U.S. and b) Barbra Streisand remade it and had a moderate hit with it. I guess I need to check that version out.

I must admit to objecting slightly to the Wiki entry’s repeated use of “cliche” as a descriptor. That word is generally used in a negative sense, and there is nothing negative about “All In Love Is Fair”, although the song does employ some shopworn imagery to lyrically paint a picture of the end of a relationship.

That imagery is shopworn for a reason, though. Hurt is hurt, and you can dress it up and call it something else, but it’s still hurt. Relationships are a game, and there are often winners and losers. The song isn’t lyrically complex, but those words are powerful, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

Then there’s the singing. Dylan, Lennon and McCartney are cool, but there’s no one, living or dead, who was able to match otherworldIy songwriting skills with otherworldly singing skills like Stevie. His vocal, especially during “All In Love Is Fair”’s back half, is searing. There is palpable heartbreak and disappointment in his voice.

And he recorded this song at the age of 22. Can you imagine?


“All I Want Is You” by U2 (1988): Random thought I had a few seconds ago: “All I Want Is You” = “With Or Without You” + “The Beautiful Ones”.

Gospel song? Romantic longing? Who knows? Who cares? It’s all the same anyway.

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