In September 1976, Stevie Wonder released his eighteenth album titled Songs in the Key of Life. It included seventeen songs, running for almost 90 minutes, among them being one of my favorites “Isn’t She Lovely”. Another one of the songs he recorded was called “Pastime Paradise,” and it talked about those who waste their lives in the past. At the end he calls for us to “start living our lives, living for the future paradise,” one of hope and equality.
Thirty years later, artist Coolio released a song called “Gangsta’s Paradise,” in which he reworked the music a little, and sang about life in the gang world. In the bridge to the chorus he says “Tell me why are we, so blind to see/That the ones we hurt, are you and me”. This song was featured in a 1995 film starring Michelle Pfeiffer called Dangerous Minds. She also makes an appearance in the music video, along with clips from the movie.
The following year, parody artist “Weird” Al Yankovic did his own rendition of the song called “Amish Paradise.” In the same manner that Coolio laments his gangster way of life, Weird Al celebrates being “plain and simple guys/Living in an Amish paradise.” I can’t speak for Stevie Wonder or Coolio, but it seems to me that having Weird Al make a parody of one of my songs would be a great honor. He may be whacked, but the man’s a lyrical genius!
*If you want to check out the videos on Youtube here are some links:
”Pastime Paradise” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H3Sv2zad6s
”Gangsta’s Paradise” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFK6H_CcuX8
”Amish Paradise” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOfZLb33uCg