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Ebony and Ivory
music, rock
drspecial
Yes, it's actually about the song. You got a problem with that?
Good.
Knowing that Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney are playing all the instruments in "Ebony and Ivory", I took an extra interest in the drums. They're recorded very clean,with George Martin's cutting edge new digital recorder. Simple and minimal, the drums seemed a little stiff early on, but still crisp. I assumed it was Paul. (The premise that while Paul is an OK drummer for a non-drummer, Stevie is an actual drummer, and obviously a funkier guy.) But it got a bit zazzy and I wasn't sure. Could Paul have practiced enough to be zazzy by 1981? Maybe. Well, it eventually loosens up, and I start leaning toward it being Stevie playing drums. So I look it up.
Ebony_and_Ivory.jpgThe song's basic idea: black and white keys make harmony -- racial integration adds richness to our lives. Simple idea, been around for a while, got it. The record was a chart topper, had the longest run at #1 for either of their careers, and the video was shot in separate locations in super modern 1980s brave video world spirit. But it was a cheesy song. The metaphor too simple, the words cloyed. Mocked, 'twas irrefutably uncool.
Well, as far as history is accomplished, I say job well done. Any time you can take a recently-controversial idea and make it mainstream, child's play even, then you've moved things forward. Yes, controversial. My peers grew up in the 1980s, so we were the first generation to take integration for granted. The first to learn of segregation as part of history class. But to Paul and Stevie, the Civil Rights Movement had happened less than 20 years since. Martin Luther King, Jr. had died barely 14 years earlier. Look back  from today, and you will see the world has changed less drastically these few years than between 1962 to 1982.
Anyways, I saw the credits. They both play keyboards, duh. Paul plays "percussion", but Stevie plays drums. That's what matters.
- Paul McCartney: Bass, guitar, synthesizers, vocoder, percussion, piano and vocals
- Stevie Wonder: Electric piano, synthesizers, drums, percussion and vocals
So there you have it.
But really, if you listen again (hindsight 20/20), it's obviously Stevie. The intro is pretty crisp, more likely to be a drummer with more chops.
But wait, Wikipedia has thrown me a curve ball. I notice a third guy listed. Someone added backup vocals. Any guesses who? Well, where was it recorded? Don't know. Something about those curtains in the video makes me think California, but that's nonsense. Don Henley? Sammy Davis, Jr.? Freddie Mercury? Michael Jackson? No, but how about Isaac Hayes?
First of all, I can't hear him at all. I initially assume he's gonna sing beefy and deep, but maybe he blends nicely in his higher registers. But the real question for me is what was that like?
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According to my book (Lennon/McCartney: Together Alone) there is no one but Stevie & Paul. I was surprised to learn that he had already written and demoed that song for Back to the Egg, but never finished it. Stevie was an afterthought when he decided to re-record it as a single ("I thought, well, it would be really good to do it with a black guy and a white guy and really literally...show the feeling that you are trying to get over anyway." -PM)

Maybe the Isaac Hayes thing is little wiki-prank. Done been duped?

Ha! I can totally hear his speaking voice in that quote.

Ebony And Shaft?

(Anonymous)
Isaac Hayes is not on 'Ebony And Ivory'. That was just a prank pulled on Wikipedia. - Reverend Flash

Re: Ebony And Shaft?

Yeah, I suspected; you confirmed. Thanks for the input.

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