Brent Johnson’s Lost Songs: ‘As’ by Stevie Wonder

brent johnson digs up another lost treasure, this week from Stevie Wonder …

‘As’ is a song that can immediately alter my mood.

It’s a key track on Stevie Wonder’s 1976 masterwork Songs In The Key Of Life. The Motown wiz was at the height of his brilliance when he released the record — a double-album that doesn’t feel overwrought or sprawling. It simply is packed with a seemingly endless supply of fantastic songs.

Theoretically, ‘As’ was a hit single. It reached No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100. But it’s not a standard like ‘Superstition.’

It should be. The song starts as a pretty little pop-R&B hybrid on the verses. But the tinkling major chords melt away, and the minor chords of the chorus creep in. It’s suddenly a gospel love song, awash in stirring backing vocals. The shift is subtle, but it’s thrilling every time I hear it. I feel it shoot up my skin — reminding me that few things can cause happiness as instantly as music.

It’s also a rarity in pop music: a love song that’s joyous but not cheesy. It’s the kind of tune you can play at a wedding without annoying the music snobs. They might even dance.