Happy Birthday Stevie!!!

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  • innersourceinnersource 111 Posts
    He's the best part of this song:


    Happy Birthday Stevie



  • I remember seeing this on Soul Train at some point. Its an impromptu song Stevie plays that, when he gets the crowd singing, turns damn near enlightening; its a sweet little breakdown of sorts. I think its really representative how, with little preparation, everything from the bassline to his dynamics are so natural and appropriate. Just shows how in the moment his music always is, the marks of a good musician in my mind. Stevie has done so much and is so talented. At 60 years old, I think the man deserves a hand, an expensive prostitute, or at least to trend for thirty minutes on twitter.

  • bull_oxbull_ox 5,056 Posts
    Cotdamn... how many lifetimes has dude lived in 60 years?!

    Hope I get to see him live someday.

  • JuniorJunior 4,853 Posts
    Stevie Wonder Changed My Life. Happy belated birthday wishes to the great man.

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    Saying, dudes. Prove that Soulstrut didn't COMPLETELY fall off by making this thread at least a 2 pager...

    Sorry I'm so late with this, Cosmo. We had some folks visiting, and you know how that goes.

    Anyway, even if I didn't know his name at the time, I knew Little Stevie from the beginning of my life as a consistent bright spot on my dad's oldies stations. My first for-real exposure to capital-S Stevie, though, was seeing a rerun of his 1970s appearance on Sesame Street sometime when I was in the low single digits, and I'm not ashamed to admit that "Superstition" scared the shit out of me. Despite the venue and the happily dancing youth and despite Stevie's kid-friendly asides and his own typically ecstatic bearing, the relentless, buzzing threat of that song could not have been more plain to me, even back then. I couldn't understand all the words, but could pick out enough to know that it all had something to do with calamity, bodily harm, and dark things beyond the control even of grown-ups. It was like a bad dream in broad daylight, and for a long time after I tried to put it and him out of my mind. It's dumb now, but in Kid Brain Land, that's how it went.

    For most of the eighties, I thought of him mainly as a good-natured punchline (via Eddie Murphy, The Cosby Show, his affiliation with the appealingly clownish Paul MacCartney, etc.) and all-around Force For Good (MLK Day, the Kurzweil talking book, "That's What Friends Are For," etc.). I was always abstractly happy to see him whenever he showed up mugging on some variety show or shining his sunbeam on some social issue on some news show, but I didn't instinctively connect that public figure with the guy who made those great-sounding songs that came out of the radio. (Whatever else it may be, "Sir Duke" still stands at the pinnacle of Muppet funk. That banjo? C'mon, son--when you're like eight years old, everything you know about the good life is hard-coded in the sound of that song.) All of which is just a long way of saying that I took Stevie for granted for a long time, probably because he just seemed so...elemental; so much just a basic fact if life as I knew it. I liked him the way I liked hamburgers, you know?

    I think I only really started to get the picture once I bought Innervisions. I was in my mid-teens, living in a smallish semi-rural Southern town with not much access to any sort of interesting media, and on top of that I was (and remain) very provincial; I'm a hundred percent sure that I only bought this record because I saw it on some kind of bullshit list in fucking Rolling Stone. I got it on an overcast Saturday morning at a flea market out in the county; it was a buck seventy-five, it has the name "Judy McCabe" written on the front in blue marker, and though I think I might have a cleaner copy in a box somewhere, this one--this one right here--this is my copy, if you know what I mean.

    Anyway, I don't have a lot to say about this record that anyone else hasn't, but I will say that the tune on here that hit me hardest and that I go back to most--the one that made me peel off the price tag--is "Jesus Children of America." It's weird and murky and incantory, but more than any of that, it marks the moment when I made what is probably my single most important personal realization about Stevie Wonder, which is this:

    There's some shit that is only okay when it's coming from Stevie.

    Coming from anyone else--and I mean anyone else--"Jesus Children"'s clunky, recombinant lyrics ("Hello children Jesus loves you of America"?) and insistent, scattershot earnestness would feel corny and self-important. But with Stevie, the public persona and the creative voice braid together into a thing that carries in it a grace, a hope, and a goodwill that runs deeper than just about anyone's. And this same positivity--while it renders a lot of Stevie's attempts at grit unconvincing (I kinda cringe at his Cookie Monster-esque "rough" voice in the last verse of "Living For The City," and my wife chuckles at the nasty-boy reminiscences in "I Wish" because she can't imagine Stevie ever getting in trouble for anything, ever)--is, I think, what makes him so uniquely transcendent on this score.

    Like, maybe it's because they both came in the game young and were both major presences in my youth, but I always compare Stevie and Michael. Over decades and decades, neither one of them ever got too profound; twenty, thirty, forty years on, their lyrics stayed overwhelmingly simple, in spirit if not in word. And not just perfect-pop-simple, either, but child-simple. I think Mike's relative lack of musical talent made him more beholden to the talents of others, so his simplicity was rooted in the blocked spark of the kept man, and ultimately curdled into forced innocence ("Ooh--butterflies!") and bitter petulance ("Stop fuckin' with me!"). That stuff is not without its power, but still. Stevie, on the other hand, wasn't hemmed by the same creative limits and arrested development, and it's become clear that his simplicity has really just been a simplicity of mission, a focus.

    Put simply, I think Stevie's whole career can be seen and heard as a sustained exploration of the necessity of, the chore of, the consequences of, and--first, last, and most of all--the joy of keeping an open heart. Whether the lyrics or concepts are cheesy or indulgent to you or me ends up not mattering all that much, because his vast talent couples with his seemingly lifelong commitment to this singular conception of what it means to love, forming a perfect, self-contained circuit of humanity that implicitly includes all but ultimately relies on no one but him. The energy behind it is endlessly renewable, which lets the work flow from itself and into itself, becoming something like its own sun.

    Like I said: No one but Stevie, man.

    I'm a little undercaffeinated and monkey-minded right now, and I would apologize for being so all-over here and talking for so long, but I don't think anyone's really checking for this thread anymore, so I'm not gonna sweat it. It just seemed important to get it in.

    Happy belated birthday, Stevie.

    love,


    James

  • CosmoCosmo 9,767 Posts
    Thanks dude. The two signs that The Strut is probably really dead - this thread hasn't cracked page 2, and you don't post on here anymore really.

  • RAW_HAMBURGERRAW_HAMBURGER 1,438 Posts

  • willie_fugalwillie_fugal 1,862 Posts
    this thread hasn't cracked page 2

    am i the only one seeing it at many posts into page 3...??

  • Big_ChanBig_Chan 5,088 Posts
    apparently he played at this jazz club/restaurant in Cleveland week completely unannounced. they kept the kitchen open late for him so he decided to throw down an hour and a half set. there was like 20 people there

    Fo sho. Stevie is cool like that. We did a show with him a couple years ago and after the show he set up his motif in catering and kicked it with us for two hours! He met everybody at the after show, played the keys a little and told jokes. It was the best after show EVAR!!!!!!

    Stevie Wonder & BC


  • Big_ChanBig_Chan 5,088 Posts
    Cosmo! You KNOW I was celebrating Stevie?s birthday. I was at the homie Spinna?s ?Wonderful? party in NYC last Saturday night. Party was incredible. Spinna rocked for five hours straight. ALL Stevie joints. It was amazing. Everyone was singing along and dancing like mad. Best crowd I have ever seen at a DJ event.









    I was going buckwild crazy. Spinna was KILLIN? it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!














  • neensneens 19 Posts

    Really nice. Thank you.

    @Big Chan Tell me you attended Chateau Ste. Michelle gig as well. NW.

  • Big_ChanBig_Chan 5,088 Posts


    @Big Chan Tell me you attended Chateau Ste. Michelle gig as well. NW.

    Mos def! The picture of Stevie and I was taken at that show.

  • neensneens 19 Posts


    @Big Chan Tell me you attended Chateau Ste. Michelle gig as well. NW.

    Mos def! The picture of Stevie and I was taken at that show.

    Oh WORD.



    Stevie F*CKING Wonder, outdoors in the middle of a winery, endless bottles of wine, 3,000 or so fans, on lawn chairs/blankets in the grass, under the moonlit sky?! GTFOH. I bawled my eyes out when he sang

    also, I was drunk.

    That WAS totally the best show 'EVAR' and I've seen him 5x. Yes 5xxxxx #braggadocio

    Also, the worst term to read in a hip hop record review is #braggadocio

    BC - Do you work for TM/LN or former HOB?

  • Big_ChanBig_Chan 5,088 Posts


    @Big Chan Tell me you attended Chateau Ste. Michelle gig as well. NW.

    Mos def! The picture of Stevie and I was taken at that show.

    Oh WORD.



    Stevie F*CKING Wonder, outdoors in the middle of a winery, endless bottles of wine, 3,000 or so fans, on lawn chairs/blankets in the grass, under the moonlit sky?! GTFOH. I bawled my eyes out when he sang

    also, I was drunk.

    That WAS totally the best show 'EVAR' and I've seen him 5x. Yes 5xxxxx #braggadocio

    Also, the worst term to read in a hip hop record review is #braggadocio

    BC - Do you work for TM/LN or former HOB?

    Neens. I agree with you! That Stevie show was incredible. Best show I have ever seen as well. I watched most of the show from the front row. I also got to watch the whole sound check earlier that day. I work with the promoter who does all the shows with the Winery.

  • m_dejeanm_dejean Quadratisch. Praktisch. Gut. 2,946 Posts
    Happy birthday to a true giant. He's playing a big arena concert here this summer.
    Haven't bought a ticket yet, because my financial situation is kind of messy right now, but I'll get some for me and the missus as soon as that clears. There's no way in hell I'm missing this. Might be the only chance I'll get to see him.

    Is it okay to post covers in this thread?

    The Gary Bartz/Andy Bey version of "Black Maybe" is one of the best Stevie (well, Syreeta) covers ever:

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