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Home > Hits Menu > Hits List > "EBONY AND IVORY" by PAUL MCCARTNEY AND STEVIE WONDER > Summary
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Top Position (Australia): 3
Song Author: Paul McCartney
Year Recorded: 1981
Record Label: Parlaphone
Label Number: A-6983
"Ebony and Ivory"

Recorded 1981

"Ebony and Ivory" is a 1982 number-one single by Paul McCartney, performed with Stevie Wonder. It was released on March 29 of that year.

The song is featured on McCartney's album Tug of War as well as several of Wonder's greatest hits albums.

At the simplest level, the song is about the ebony (black) and ivory (white) keys on a piano, but also deals with integration and racial harmony on a deeper level. The title was inspired by McCartney hearing Spike Milligan say "black notes, white notes, and you need to play the two to make harmony, folks!".

The figure is much older. It was popularised by James Aggrey in the 1920s, inspiring the title of the pan-African journal The Keys, but was in use from at least the 1840s.

Written by McCartney alone, the song was performed live in the studio by both McCartney and Wonder, though due to conflicting work schedules, both recorded their parts for the song's music video separately.

"Ebony and Ivory" spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was the fourth-biggest hit of 1982.[5] For McCartney, the song's run atop the chart was the longest of any of his post-Beatles works, and second longest career-wise (behind "Hey Jude" with The Beatles); for Wonder, it was his longest-running chart-topper.

It marked the first time that any single released by any member of the Beatles hit the Billboard R&B chart.

The song listed at #59 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of all time.

Following the song's huge chart success, it was derided as "saccharine" and was later named as the tenth worst song of all time by Blender magazine.

On October 2007, it was named the worst duet in history by BBC 6 Music listeners. (In September 2010, Matthew Wilkening of AOL Radio ranked the song at #9 on the list of the 100 Worst Songs Ever, stating that the song was " one much better by Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy [in Saturday Night Live].

Everybody: 'You are blind as a bat and I have sight...'" However, the song's title was picked up by a journalist reporting on two stroke victims one black, one white who played a duo, one hand each.

This song has been parodied in many television shows, such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Father Ted, Everybody Hates Chris, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live, as well as movies such as Undercover Brother and Guess Who.

The phrase, "Keyboard, Oh Lord! Why Don't We?" was used for the title of the third album by Norwegian stoner rock band Thulsa Doom. The song and video were parodied in a commercial for the 2008 season of the USA Network show Psych.

"Ebony and Ivory" was banned for a while in South Africa during the Apartheid era.