Stevie Wonder / Life As It Is 1971 - 1982
1971 - 1973
01 Look Around / Where I’m Coming From April 1971
02 Do Yourself A Favour / Where I’m Coming From April 1971
03 I Love Every Little Thing About You / Music Of My Mind March 1972
04 Keep On Running / Music Of My Mind March 1972
05 Evil / Music Of My Mind March 1972
06 Maybe Your Baby / Talking Book November 1972
07 Tuesday Heartbreak / Talking Book November 1972
08 Superstition / Talking Book November 1972
09 Big Brother / Talking Book November 1972
10 I Believe / Talking Book November 1972
11 Too High / Innervisions August 1973
12 Living For The City / Innervisions August 1973
13 Higher Ground / Innervisions August 1973
14 Jesus Children Of America / Innervisions August 1973
15 Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing / Innervisions August 1973
16 He’s Misstra Know It All / Innervisions August 1973
1974 - 1982
01 Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away / Fulfillingness First Finale August 1974
02 Boogie On Reggae Woman / Fulfillingness First Finale August 1974
03 They Won’t Go When I Go / Fulfillingness First Finale August 1974
04 Creepin’ / Fulfillingness First Finale August 1974
05 You Haven’t Done Nothin’ / Fulfillingness First Finale August 1974
06 Please Don’t Go / Fulfillingness First Finale August 1974
07 Have A Talk With God / Songs In The Key Of Life October 1976
08 Village Ghetto Land / Songs In The Key Of Life October 1976
09 Sir Duke / Songs In The Key Of Life October 1976
10 Black Man / Songs In The Key Of Life October 1976
11 I Wish / Songs In The Key Of Life October 1976
12 Pastime Paradise / Songs In The Key Of Life October 1976
13 As / Songs In The Key Of Life October 1976
14 Another Star / Songs In The Key Of Life October 1976
15 Master Blaster / Hotter Than July October 1980
I think we all know that Stevie Wonder is hugely overrated. Of course, I get it that he’s a legend, that’s indisputable, but I’m sure that has less to do with his music and far more to do with his status as a reverend icon, a minister of love and happiness in our crazy, fucked up world. And for once I feel qualified to write such a thing because strange as it now seems, Stevie Wonder was as much a soundtrack to my teenage years as some of my more predictable favourites.
In the mid seventies, within our youthful clique of strays and stragglers, while we all shared roughly the same likes and dislikes, individually we tended to fixate on one group or artist above all others, whether it was Rod Stewart, Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople, Cockney Rebel or Led Zep. Then, along came Gary, a bit of a latecomer. His specialist subject was Stevie Wonder.
Being largely white boy rockers, Gary’s liking for the wondrous one was the source of much amusement and confusion to us Neanderthals. While we swapped LP’s during our weekly ritual, he would always stand to one side, bemoaning the fact that no-one ever wanted to borrow his coveted Stevie vinyl. Now, as luck would have it Gary lived close to town so we often crashed at his house come the weekend. And that was where he would gleefully wreak his revenge, playing nothing but Innervisions, Talking Book, Fulfillingness First Finale or Songs In The Key Of Life last thing at night and first thing in the morning, over and over until we slipped into unconsciousness or could stand it no longer and left.
Not surprisingly, I became very familiar with those albums, and yet no matter how many times I heard them, they were never an easy listen. Apart from the obvious chart hits, they were full of mystifying subtleties and nuances that made them bloody hard work, certainly for me. Gary though would sit there in beautific silence, totally immersed in wonderland and the supposed magic unfolding around him, and it had nothing to do with any drink or drugs either.
When I finally got around to this playlist, naturally I couldn’t help but think of Gary, where did he go, what happened to him, does he still listen to Stevie Wonder every night driving his Mrs and kids insane. Initially, I guess in his honour, I intended Life As It Is to be an alternative best of without any of the hits. But the more I listened, the more I realised that the popular songs were often the best songs and a necessary interlude amongst some of the unknown, harder biting, and more intriguing album tracks. Because even now Stevie Wonder still takes a bit of effort to like. Infact, it’s only since I’ve hit middle age that I’ve been able to appreciate him at all, something that would have been impossible in the past because his songs are hardly the music of youth are they?
One of the reasons could be that the man is always so goddamn happy, and I mean really happy, not just faking it. As we know, youth and happiness don’t really mix well together. His songs may well be angry and socially biting, sad and melancholic, but they are rarely depressing in an angst ridden, rebellious, slash your wrists kind of way. And how could any self respecting youth ever forgive him for those horrible syrupy eighties ballads that old gits sing to each other at weddings. Still, no matter, it’s hard not to like the man with all his cheeriness, graceful introspection and deep rooted spirituality. He certainly makes a change from the troubled souls I usually listen to.