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One of Songs in the Key of Life’s key tracks, and another on which Yamaha’s GX-1 features prominently. Like Village Ghetto Land, Pastime Paradise encourages the world to get its act together, yet it has a haunting lilt that suggests Stevie knows he’s fighting a losing battle.
Wonder was shooting for an Eleanor Rigby vibe with the synthesized strings, and originally recorded a straighter version with drums. However, he eventually decided to go with percussion only - cowbells, congas and stick ‘claps’.
The result is a Latin feel, with the incessant Hare Krishna bells serving as an eerie accompaniment. Their players also chant towards the end, before a gong indicates that time has run out - not only for the song, but perhaps also for us. After this was added, Stevie decided that he’d like a reversed version to appear at the start of the song - listen out for it just before the vocal begins.