Pastime Paradise

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"Pastime Paradise"
Song by Stevie Wonder from the album Songs in the Key of Life
Released 1976
Genre Soul, pop
Length 3:27
Label Motown
Writer(s) Stevie Wonder
Producer(s) Stevie Wonder
Songs in the Key of Life track listing
"Knocks Me Off My Feet"
"Pastime Paradise"
"Summer Soft"
"Pastime Paradise"
Single by Sunlightsquare
from the album Urban Latin Soul[1]
Genre Soul, Latin music
Length 4:31
Writer(s) Stevie Wonder

"Pastime Paradise" is a song from the 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life by Grammy-winning artist Stevie Wonder. The song was one of the first to use a synthesizer (the Yamaha GX-1) to sound like a full string section.[2] Built initially from synth tracks rather than from a drummer setting the basic rhythm, the song was later augmented with rhythm performances from Ray Maldonado and Bobbye Hall, especially featuring finger cymbals.[3]


Steve Lodder writes that the song can be understood in two different ways. It compares and contrasts the difference between the negative attitude of someone who has a flawed past, and the positive outlook of someone who wishes for a perfect future in this life or the next. Or, the song may be understood as Wonder describing how me-first materialism and laziness cannot compare to a strong work ethic which brings the great reward of heaven.[4]

Covers, samplings, and parodies[edit]

Some of the artists who have covered Pastime Paradise include Chick Corea, Patti Smith, Charlie's Roots, Ray Barretto, Najee, Eläkeläiset, and Sunlightsquare. (The latter had released it as a single in 2008).[5] The song has been sampled by over a dozen artists, in songs such as "Time" by Mary J. Blige, "Crack" by Scarface, and "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio (which in turn inspired "Amish Paradise" by Weird Al Yankovic).[6][7]