Thursday, July 9, 2009
The Only Natural Wonder of the World That Truly Matters
The dizzier I get from the toliet-bowl swirl of today's popular music, the more I find myself drawn to the music of yesteryear, and lately I've been listening to a ton of vintage Stevie Wonder. Coincidentally, I rediscovered Mr. Wonder in 1999, which was the same year Britney and the Boyz (Backstreet and N-Sync)broke - and popular music officially went into the crapper. I remember walking into a Tower Records, (Remember those?) picking up and purchasing Wonder's Music of My Mind and Fullingness First Finale. Initially, I only listened to the songs I knew from hearing them played on the radio when I was younger, "Superwoman,""Boogie On Reggae Woman," and "Creepin." Then, I began to listen to these CDs from beginning to end over and over. Birthdays and Christmases brought more Stevie Wonder CDs into my music collection and my life. Enter Innervisions, Talking Book, Original Musicquarium I, Hotter Than July, Songs in the Key of Life to name a few. Eventually, I learned first-hand what my elders, musicians, music journalists and connoisseurs of substanitive music had known all along - that Stevie Wonder is genius. Even the word genius fails to adequately describe his talents as a musician, songwriter, composer, producer, and singer. Wonder is responsible for such conscience-raising songs as "Higher Ground, "Superstition," "Living for the City" and "Jesus Children of America" that have become pillars of American music.
And that beautiful voice. A voice that Cee-lo, one half of the duo Gnarls Barkley, has aptly described as "always sounding like tears of joy, like he's right on the verge of crying out of glee and peace." Stevie is as funky as James Brown and Parliment-Funkadelic - Just listen to "I Wish" or "You Haven't Done Nothin.'" And no one - with the possible exception of The Beatles - rivals Stevie in the love song-writing department. There are generations of couples who have said their wedding vows, danced their first, second, and third dance, and consumated their unions to many a Stevie ballad. From the jerk flavor of "Master Blaster (Jammin)," his tribute to Bob Marley, the big-band nostalgia of "Sir Duke," the Latin beats of "Don't Worry About A Thing," "Ngiculela - Es Una Historia - I Am Singing" and "Another Star" to the mesquite Country twang of "Ain't Gonna Stand For It," his music transcends genres. Stevie's music has blessed so many people, me especially. He is my musical Prozac and emotional colonic. He is all the proof I need that a loving God exists.