First Listen: Dara Tucker jazzes up a Stevie classic beautifully

Photo credit: Andreas Hofweber

(June 3, 2021) Of all of the Stevie Wonder songs that have been covered over the years, “You Haven’t Done Nuthin’” is one that seems like it should have been remade more often. Then too, if the websites that track cover versions of songs are correct, “Golden Lady” has been remade even less. After all, there are no shortage of targets in the political, business or even religious world who be worthy targets for a new translation of Wonder’s pointed commentary. Wonder released “You Haven’t Done Nuthin’” two days before the Watergate scandal drove its target, Richard M. Nixon, from office, and the song reached Number One on the Pop and Soul charts. Talk about an impactful song.

Maybe that explains why it seems like artists have largely stayed away from the tune, although the 45th President inspired a few performers to revisit it.

(June 3, 2021) Of all of the Stevie Wonder songs that have been covered over the years, “You Haven’t Done Nuthin’” is one that seems like it should have been remade more often. Then too, if the websites that track cover versions of songs are correct, “Golden Lady” has been remade even less. After all, there are no shortage of targets in the political, business or even religious world who be worthy targets for a new translation of Wonder’s pointed commentary. Wonder released “You Haven’t Done Nuthin’” two days before the Watergate scandal drove its target, Richard M. Nixon, from office, and the song reached Number One on the Pop and Soul charts. Talk about an impactful song.

Maybe that explains why it seems like artists have largely stayed away from the tune, although the 45th President inspired a few performers to revisit it. Singer, songwriter and bandleader Dara Tucker missed Number 45 with her remake of “You Haven’t Done Nuthin,’” but her interpretation of Wonder’s funky protest song is a part of a project that finds Tucker and a top-flight band giving jazz sheen to a some of the best-known protest songs. That project, Dreams of Waking: Music for a Better World, dropped on May 28. Tucker’s remake of Wonder’s classic shows that even the greatest songs can benefit from a touch of swing.

And from the soft touch on the drums that transitions into a shuffle march at the hook to the jumping brass a piano creativity that all jump from a steady foundation set by the double bass, this track simply swings. Tucker’s vocals prove that songs from the soul and rock era remain an untapped source for straight ahead jazz. Check out Tucker’s cover of “You Haven’t Done Nuthin’” here.

By Howard Dukes

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