Uptight (Everything's Alright)

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"Uptight (Everything's Alright)"
Single by Stevie Wonder
from the album Up-Tight
B-side "Purple Rain Drops"[1]
Released November 22, 1965
Format 7" single
Genre Soul
Length 2:52
Label Tamla
Writer(s) Stevie Wonder, Sylvia Moy, Henry Cosby
Producer(s) Mickey Stevenson, Clarence Paul
Audio sample
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"Uptight (Everything's Alright)" is a 1966 hit single recorded by Stevie Wonder for the Tamla (Motown) label.[2] One of his most popular early singles, "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" was the first Stevie Wonder hit single to be co-written by the artist.

The single was a watershed in Wonder's career for several reasons. Aside from the number-one hit "Fingertips", only two of Wonder's singles had reached the Top 40 of Billboard's Pop Singles chart, ("Workout, Stevie Workout" reached #33 in late 1963 and "Hey Harmonica Man" reached #29 Pop in the Summer of 1964) and the fifteen-year-old artist was in danger of being let go. In addition, Wonder's voice had begun to change, and Motown CEO Berry Gordy was worried that he would no longer be a commercially viable artist.

As it turned out, however, producer Clarence Paul found it easier to work with Wonder's now-mature tenor voice, and Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby set about writing a new song for the artist, based upon an instrumental riff Wonder had devised.[3] Nelson George, in Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound, recorded that Wonder had also sought something based on the driving beat of the Rolling Stones's "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," after playing several dates with the Stones on tour and being impressed with the British band. As Wonder presented his ideas, finished or not, "he went through everything," remembered Moy. "I asked, 'Are you sure you don't have anything else?' He started singing and playing 'Everything is alright, uptight.' That was as much as he had. I said, 'That's it. Let's work with that.'"[4] The resulting song, "Uptight (Everything's Alright)", features lyrics which depict a poor young man's appreciation for a rich girl's seeing beyond his poverty to his true worth.

On the day of the recording, Moy had completed the lyrics, but didn't have them in Braille for Wonder to read, and so sang the song to him as he was recording it. She sang a line ahead of him, and he simply repeated the lines as he heard them. In 2008, Moy commented that "he never missed a beat" during the recording.[5]

A notable success, "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in early 1966, at the same time reaching the top of the Billboard R&B Singles chart for five weeks.[6] Billboard ranked it as the 59th biggest American hit of 1966.[7] An accompanying album, Up-Tight, was rushed into production to capitalize on the single's success.

Chart performance[edit]

Little Ole Man[edit]

A note-for-note re-recording of Wonder's version was used as the backing track for Bill Cosby's 1967 musical comedy single, "Little Ole Man (Uptight, Everything's Alright)". Bill Cosby is not related to the song's co-writer Henry Cosby.

In popular culture[edit]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
"A Sweet Woman Like You" by Joe Tex
Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single
January 22, 1966 – February 19, 1966 (five weeks)
Succeeded by
"Baby Scratch My Back" by Slim Harpo