Musician Stevie Wonder is 70

Do you want some candy?

Stevie WonderWhen you’ve written about Stevie Wonder at 60 and at 65, featuring songs he wrote for other people, then what?

I suppose I could note his Carpool Karaoke with James Corden from 2015. Or point out a YouTube page called RareWonderMusic. It features Stevie singing I Can See the Sun in Late December, a song he gave to Roberta Flack, plus I Think I’m On The Right Track, Spread The Love, and Good Light.

But I’ll just list 25 songs. I could have listed 25 other songs. The last two are my top two, but the rest of the list is fluid.

Do I Do. For a 1982 greatest hits double LP called Original Musiquarium I, he added four new songs. Dizzy Gillespie and a stoned ending. “Do you want some candy?”
Do Yourself a Favor – from the transitional Where I’m Coming From album
Another Star – first of the songs from Songs in the Key of Life
You Haven’t Done Nothin’ – from Fulfillingness’ First Finale. Features the Jackson Five.

He’s Misstra Know-It-All – from Innervisions
Blame It On the Sun – from Talking Book, the first of those great 1970s albums
You Are the Sunshine of My Life. I love the fact that Stevie’s vocal doesn’t appear until the verse after the chorus.
Nothing’s Too Good for My Baby

That was a hit?

Fingertips, Part 2, and for a bonus, Fingertips. An article from WNYC: That Was A Hit?!?: Little Stevie Wonder, ‘Fingertips’
Sir Duke. If you’re going to namecheck, this song is exemplary.
We Can Work It Out. One of my all-time favorite Beatles’ covers. A live version.
Living for the City – album version and single version. The former has the better storyline -“Skyscrapers and everything!” but the latter is more danceable.

Boogie on Reggae Woman
I Wish
Higher Ground
For Once In My Life – a ballad turned into an uptempo song

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours. “I’ve done a lot of foolish things..”
Pastime Paradise. My daughter discovered, in order, Amish Paradise by Weird Al, Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio, then the original
I Was Made To Love Her
Master Blaster (Jammin’)

Superstition
Love’s in Need of Love Today. After 9/11, he sang this song on a television benefit.
Uptight (Everything’s Alright). Sonically, for me, the demarcation from post-Little Stevie Wonder
As – until the day that 8 times 8 times 8 is 4

Lydster/music throwback: Pastime Paradise

Verification
Of revelations
Acclamation
World salvation

As I have mentioned, the Daughter is really into the music of Weird Al Yankovic. She asks me questions about who did the originals of his parody songs. I’m pretty good with the pop/rock stuff, not so hot with the rap sourced items.

One exception is Amish Paradise, one of our favorite Weird Al songs, which I know came from the Coolio song Gangsta’s Paradise, featuring singer L.V. But truth is that I am only aware of that because it’s a reworking of Pastime Paradise, a song on the first side of the epic, Grammy-winning 1976 LP Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder.

A couple days later, the Daughter asked if Al gets permission to use other people’s songs, and I said that he did. But by this point, she knew of the Coolio/Weird Al feud. “Coolio claimed that he did not give permission for the parody… Yankovic claimed that he had been told Coolio had given the go-ahead through his record label and apologized.” Coolio too has since apologized for allowing his ego to get in the way.

For a while, the Daughter would play the three songs back-to-back. But eventually, she really glommed to the Stevie original, playing it a few times every day. I think it is the rhyme:

Dissipation
Race relations
Consolation
Segregation
Dispensation
Isolation
Exploitation
Mutilation
Mutations
Miscreation
Confirmation, to the evils of the world

Proclamation
Of race relations
Consolation
Integration
Verification
Of revelations
Acclamation
World salvation
Vibrations
Stimulation
Confirmation, to the peace of the world

I always liked it, but her affection for the song has enhanced my enjoyment of it.

Listen to:

Pastime Paradise – Stevie Wonder (1976) here or here
Pastime Paradise – Ray Barretto (1981) here or here
Gangsta’s Paradise – Coolio, featuring L.V., #1 for three weeks on the Billboard pop charts (1995) here or here
Amish Paradise -Weird Al Yankovic, #53 (1996) here or here
Pastime Paradise – Patti Smith (2007) here or here

Music, April 1971: What’s Going On

More random music recollections based on the book Never A Dull Moment.

You probably think you know the story of Marvin Gaye’s standout album, What’s Going On, how the Artist recognized what’s REALLY happening in the world and puts out a album designed to stick it to the Suits at the record company. The actual story was a bit more prosaic.

In fact, the title song began with a wisp of of an idea by Obie Benson, the bass singer of the Four Tops, who thought that maybe he had another song like the Coke commercial, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.” He and Motown songwriter Al Cleveland thought it might fit Marvin, but he wasn’t impressed. They pushed, and Marvin gave it some tweaks, thinking he might produce it for the Originals.

In July 1970, he came into the studio, had some football buddies for the party noise, captured sax player Eli Fontaine warming up, and basically fell into a sound. He managed to slip it out as a single in January 1971, while Motown owner/brother-in-law Berry Gordy was out on the West Coast. Gordy thought two things: 1) he hated the song, and 2) wondered where’s followup album was after it became a hit.

The What’s Going On album was recorded in March and released in May, with a second mix by Gaye that defined not only the LP, but changed the expectation of listeners regarding what was expected from a Motown album. I played it a lot in college; Inner City Blues especially STILL seems relevant.

Another Motown artist was giving Berry Gordy headaches. Stevie Wonder was married, living in NYC with new wife Syretta, and about to turn 21. His lawyers sent a letter to Gordy disavowing his Motown contract.

Meanwhile, Stevie discovered The Original New Timbral Orchestra, or TONTO, keyboard system. Wonder had lost interest in his new album, Where I’m Coming From, which was actually the first Stevie album I ever bought, as his own sound was developing.

His next album, Music of My Mind, made in 1971 and released the next year, was more representative of the groove he was going for. The FOUR albums after THAT, all dominant on my turntable in the 1970s won FOUR Grammy albums of the Year awards in five years.

Sly Stone’s album was two years late, and he became “the least reliable superstar in the history of popular music.” The eventual downbeat, indecipherable There’s A Riot Goin’ On, released in November 1971, was a contact high of an album. One did not have to BE stoned to FEEL stoned listening to it.

Was Shaft blaxploitation or black empowerment? It was a movie by noted black photographer Gordon Parks, with Richard Roundtree as the handsome black detective, whose looks drove the lyrics written by STAX artist Isaac Hayes. The “shut your mouth” was delivered by Telma Hopkins, whose hit with Dawn, “Knock Three Times”, came out earlier that year. My sister Leslie owned this double LP, which he had to get partially replaced because the package had two of the same LPs.

Listen To

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Inner City Blues – Marvin Gaye
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott-Heron
Family Affair – Sly & the Family Stone
I Can’t Get Next to You – Al Green
Toussaint L’Ouverture- Santana

March rambling #2: We are never Ivory Coast

Rob Ford died of a more respectable disease.

Stolen: We are all France. We are all Belgium. We are never Ivory Coast or Burkina Faso or Tunisia or Mali.

10 Safest Countries If WW3 Breaks Out
make America grate
There was no wave of compassion when addicts were hooked on crack.

From Scapegoating to Solidarity: 2016 Is the Year to Turn the Immigration Debate Around.

Weekly Sift: My racial blind spots.

An Open Letter to Drumpf Voters from His Top Strategist-Turned-Defector.

What It Means to Be Right-Footed.

I told the truth in my sister’s obituary so that others might choose to live and Amy Biancolli’s The long arms of a story.

The man who turns news into art.

Game Theory for Parents. “Mathematically tested measures to make your kids cooperate—all on their own.”

Something just slammed into Jupiter.

American Bystander is a printed humor magazine that’s about to release its second issue, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign.

I generally have good success, but Chuck Miller reports on the UPS epic fail.

Feck ‘n’ Gruntle.

What does superfetation mean?

Evanier – how things are made: Snickers bars and frozen french fries and
Newman-O’s (an Oreo competitor) and balloons and an automated teller machine, plus a nifty magic trick.

Now I Know: The Secret Life of Honey Buns

Pie-lexa as a treatment for RBF

Cookie Monster bakes — with some help from Siri.

superman.races

RIP

Patty Duke, 69: Oscar winner was the youngest at the time to receive the award. She went through so much before becoming a mental health advocate. And yes, I watched The Patty Duke Show – she was the youngest actor to have a TV show named for her in the day, and I even remember the theme.

She even had a hit single. Here’s an anecdote from Ken Levine; I’d forgotten she’d been the Screen Actors Guild president. She was the Mystery Guest on What’s My Line (1972).

Ken Howard, 71: he of The White Shadow, 30 Rock, Crossing Jordan, Adam’s Rib and a bunch of other stuff I’ve watched. He was also SAG/AFTRA union president.

Garry Shandling, 66: comedian’s influential career spanned decades. I watched his eponymously-named show regularly. He also gave us the greatest TV show about television; I didn’t see it often, it being on HBO, but I DID see the finale while I was in Boston taping JEOPARDY! Mark Evanier rewrote for Garry.

Larry Drake, 67: from L.A. Law.

Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, 46: died of a more respectable disease and The Honest Liar.

Music

My Window Faces The South – George Morgan with a young Glen Campbell.

I Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere – Rick Moranis.

Son of a Preacher Man – Tom Goss.

Not Given Lightly – Chris Knox, a New Zealand artist (1989).

Fragile – Sting and Stevie Wonder, from the former’s 60th birthday concert.

Green Onions and Sophia Loren. Loren was in Schenectady giving a talk recently; I didn’t see her, alas.

Google searches (me)

Drawing lots of lines.

Jewish View.

 

December rambling #1: your first draft

Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact – Gonna Be Alright (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

25mphPicture per HERE.

How Republicans Trumped Themselves. Still, I’m NOT convinced that FriendsWhoLikeTrump.com reflects true Trump supporters on Facebook.

How people respond to Bible quotes when told they’re from the Quran.

The Deadliest Mass Shooting Everyone Forgot.

Ikea’s Newly Designed Refugee Shelters.

Why Poor People Stay Poor. Saving money costs money. Period.

UN Fighting to make LGBT people Free & Equal.

Speedway gas stations and Common Core math.

The Twitter blue bird? Hatched in Albany.

I fit the description.

2016 colors of the year.

Tom Tomorrow: The Gun Policy Debate in Four Sentences and The last thing a chaotic crime scene needs is more untrained civilians carrying guns; The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper discovers that becoming an effective good guy with a gun is harder than it looks. Plus Guns are security blankets, not insurance policies.

Conversation between Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jon Stewart & a number of 9/11 First Responders who are fighting to extend health care and compensation to responders, many of whom need it dearly. Congress is the #worstresponders.

An Interview with Catharine Hannay: Creator and Editor of MindfulTeachers.org, who I know personally.

John Oliver on the art of regifting.

Now I Know: Gator Aid and How to Make the World’s Best Paper Airplane.

The satire section

Study: Scalia Better Off in “Less Advanced” Court. Satire of very real comments from a member of SCOTUS.

Native Americans call for ban on Christians entering the US.

Donald Trump is actually Andy Kaufman.

Syrian family gets into U.S. by disguising themselves as guns, as the US Congress marks third anniversary of doing nothing in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Newtown.

The Jaquandor section

Your First Draft is NOT Crap!!!

Jaquandor’s family’s first Thanksgiving in New York. Several neat posts, such as at the Hayden Planetarium, et al.

Music!

Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact – Gonna Be Alright (OFFICIAL VIDEO), plus On the field interview with Rebecca Jade!

Liz Callaway bobbles the lyrics to a Stephen Sondheim song. Or does she?

Dustbury: RIP to music’s P.F. Sloan and Cynthia Robinson.

Coverville: All-Beatles covers Thanksgiving show for the 12th year in a row! “Track by track tribute to Rubber Soul for the 50th anniversary of its release, as well as a tribute to Paris with a full set of French-spoken Beatles covers.”

Chuck Miller wants to be buried with Stevie Wonder’s “Hotter Than July”, which I consider his last great album.

Funnies

AV Club’s favorite graphic novels, one-shots, and archives of 2015.

Mark Evanier continues to list the twenty top voice actors in American animated cartoons between 1928 and 1968, including Paul Winchell (Tigger) and Howard Morris (Atom Ant) and Stan Freberg (Junior Bear), and Paul Frees (Boris Badenov, Professor Ludwig Von Drake, Poppin Fresh the Pillsbury Doughboy) and June Foray (Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha Fatale) and Daws Butler (Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Captain Crunch).

Buster Keaton – the Art of the Gag.

Smilin’ Ed Comics by Raoul Vezina & Tom Skulan. Hardcover on IndieGoGo.

GOOGLE alerts (me)

Time to Ask Arthur Anything. He answered mine about Prez and Veep candidates and Ranking the Republican candidates and The USA’s gun problem.

SamraiFrog’s 50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums.

Twing toustlers.

GOOGLE alerts (not me)

St Peter’s set for £1.2 million renovation. “Admitting to being “very nervous” about taking on the large-scale project, Friends chairman Roger Green, who this year won an award for his volunteering, has agreed to stay on and see through the changes, which are not likely to be complete until at least the end of 2019.”