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"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.[1] Built initially from synth tracks rather than from a drummer setting the basic rhythm, the song is augmented with rhythm performances from Ray Maldonado, Bobbye Hall, and Wonder, and a persistent "chinging" bell pattern by Hare Krishna musicians. A gospel choir from West Angeles Church of God and Hare Krishna chanting group culminate in a multi-cultural finale.[2]


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.[3]

Covers, samplings, and parodiesEdit

The song was notably sampled by Coolio for "Gangsta's Paradise", as well as in songs such as "Time" by Mary J. Blige, "Crack" by Scarface, and "Amish Paradise" by Weird Al Yankovic (a parody of "Gangsta's Paradise").[4][5] Covers include those by Patti Smith, Ray Baretto, Panache Culture, Sherri Winston, Karl Latham, and Sunlightsquare.[6][7]


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