Jul 30, 2012

Notes on Stevie Wonder.

In Manchester, UK, from the 60s.

  • Renee loves Stevie Wonder, for dozens of reasons, I am sure.  Some of which can not be expressed in to words.  But, I know one thing for certain, the Wife has always been a sucker for that "Moog-y" sounding keyboard bass, which Stevie has all over most of his tracks.  
  • I love how Stevie Wonder oftentimes will eschew a chorus and just do verse parts with the hook being the last couplet of a verse section.
  • Sometimes I will ask myself questions about Wonder's tracks, like, "Why does he use the word 'many' so much in Living for the City?", or, "Why does he have another singer start You Are the Sunshine of My Life?", or, "Why for such a long stretch did basically every single sound exactly the same?", or, "Why would one of the greatest mouth harp players in history ever hire anybody else to play harp on his records?", etc, ... But, always, whenever I doubt him for a second, my answer always is, "Because he is frickin' Stevie Wonder, that's why!"
  • I love Stevie's drumming style -- you can tell whenever it is him that did the drum track -- and I also love that for most of his career he preferred to have the drums isolated on the left channel of the stereo picture.  If I ever get in to a studio again, I will do the same thing.  
  • Sir Duke, with its snappy crisp horn charts and sterling ringing guitar, is an absolute masterpiece and could cheer up a dead person.  
  • I love the Inner City One Act Play plopped in the middle of the album version of Living for the City.  
  • Amazing Rock/Soul poetry from Living for the City:  "Her skirt is short but, Lord, her legs are sturdy/To get to school she's got to get up early/Her clothes are old but never are they dirty", and, "To find a job is like a haystack needle/Cause where he lives they don't use colored people."
  • The "Dontcha wanna fall in love with me" jam coda at the end of I Believe is scorching hot and so powerful.  I almost wish he just did a Hey Jude on that and carried it out for four more minutes.  (Who knows? Maybe he did do that, and they just decided to fade it out when they did.)
  • I love how Wonder preferred crossfades on his albums.  I like a number of artists who did that a lot; Joni Mitchell, XTC, Prince, Paul McCartney, etc, ...  Wonder, like Mitchell and Prince, is a master of album sequencing, too.  Songs are often linked together by key, instrumentation, mood, or lyrical topics.  That is great for the albums, but, it also makes for happy "edits" on an iTunes playlist, since the songs have to be cut off so abruptly, they are "smashed" together.  I v rarely had access to a crossfader/mixing board when I made tapes back in the day, so, I developed a laborious method of chopping off songs at the precise moment, "smashing" them together, so there would be no silence between any of the tracks.
  • Speaking of old mix tapes, back when I was still making tapes meant especially to enhance a certain, ahem, erm, mood or state I might have been in at the time, here were the opening five tracks to my favorite tape of this kind:  1. Frost Circus/XTC 2. Taxman/The Beatles 3. The Jungle Line/Joni Mitchell 4. Hypnotized/Fleetwood Mac (RIP Bob Welch) 5. Superstition/Stevie Wonder.
  • I Wish is a stunning track, too.  One of the finest songs about childhood, ever.
  • And, finally, I love that Stevie Wonder is still out there, sounding amazing and blowing audiences away, making all of us so happy to be alive.

"And with a voice like Ella's ringing out/You know the band just can't lose"

Mwah, ... 

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