Meaning of Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder & The Story Behind

In May 1974, having celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday shortly before, the legendary American jazzman Edward Kennedy Ellington, nicknamed Duke, died.

Stevie Wonder, who highly appreciated the work of Ellington, dedicated the song Sir Duke to him and other famous musicians who left this world.

Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder Song story

According to Wonder, he wanted to help them avoid oblivion with this composition, as people forget yesterday’s idols very quickly:

I knew from the very beginning what the title would be, but I wanted it to be about musicians who did something for us. They are forgotten so quickly. I wanted to express my gratitude. He gave us something that will surely last forever. This is the core idea of ​​what we do…

The lyrics of Sir Duke don’t just mention Duke Ellington. Wonder also pays tribute to Louis Armstrong (Satchmo), Count Basie (Basie), Glenn Miller (Miller) and Ella Fitzgerald (Ella).

The composition Sir Duke was included in the album Songs in the Key of Life, released in 1976. It was released as a single in March 1977, which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Hot Soul Singles, and reached number two on the UK Singles Chart.

In 1995 Stevie Wonder re-recorded Sir Duke for the live album Natural Wonder.

Covers of Sir Duke have been played by many bands. Joe Dassin performed it in French. In his version, the song is called La musique c’est le monde des fous.

Interesting Facts

  • In 2012, Wonder performed Sir Duke at the Queen Elizabeth II 60th Anniversary Concert.
  • Sir Duke was featured in the famous Lee jeans commercial, as well as in the movie Hitch with Will Smith and some other movies.

Lyrics of Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder

Music is a world within itself
With a language we all understand
With an equal opportunity
For all to sing, dance and clap their hands
But just because a record has a groove
Don’t make it in the groove
But you can tell right away at letter A
When the people start to move

They can feel it all over
They can feel it all over people
They can feel it all over
They can feel it all over people

Music knows it is and always will
Be one of the things that life just won’t quit
But here are some of the music’s pioneers
That time will not allow us to forget
For there’s Basie, Miller, Satchmo
And the king of all Sir Duke
And with a voice like Ella’s ringing out
There’s no way the band can lose

Lyrics of Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder Alternate

Music is the world itself
The language we all understand
Where everyone is equal in opportunity
Sing, dance and clap your hands
But just because the record has a groove,
Don’t need to write it down on the knurled track
But you can immediately tell
When people start moving

It’s felt everywhere
It’s felt in people
It’s felt everywhere
It’s felt in people

Music knows and will always know that it is
One of those things that will always be in life
And here are some of the pioneers of music,
Which time will not allow us to forget
‘Cause it’s Basie, Miller, Satchmo
And the king over all – Sir Duke
And if you hear a voice like Ella’s,
The orchestra can’t fail

Song quote

I think people are only able to know that there is agreement through music, through united dance and rhythms. As I said in “Sir Duke”: “Music is a world in itself/A language we all understand/Where everyone is equal in opportunity/Singing, dancing and clapping.”

Stevie Wonder, Rolling Stone

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