One of the purest signs that I go by when I think of who I need to make a tribute bag for in my Music Series is whether or not I instantly become overwhelmed by emotion when I think of the artist in question. In this particular case - the incomparable genius that is Stevie Wonder - there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever. Just thinking about some of the music that he has put out over the years literally makes my heart warm. In fact, he was one of the first people that I thought of when the series was first conceived over a year ago. I can't really say what took me so long....well, part of it was definitely hesitation as far as what the graphic itself would look like. He's been through so many periods and styles that I honestly couldn't decide which iteration of Stevie that I wanted to go with! Finally - about a week ago - I realized that I really wanted to do another J Dilla bag (actually, I think I could do a Dilla bag every week and not get tired of it). And if this was the case - I was starting to set up and prep a second Dilla bag (I kept the first one, as he is my favorite producer of all time), I could easily justify eventually making more Stevie Wonder bags with different graphics as well. So, I chose a pic and work began.
For an artist as well-known as Stevie, there's of course a ton of biographical information and pictures scattered across the internet, so I won't go too deep into his history. Instead, I'll just share how I feel about his music personally. I can remember back when I was in college; I hung out with a friend a few times and we got on the subject of music. I mentioned Stevie and she says "the guy from 'Woman in Red' (80's movie starring Gene Wilder and Kelly Lebrock in case you don't know)?!? He SUCKS!" Instantly my whole attitude towards her changed! I mean, you don't have to love him, but to hate him? I feel bad for anybody whose image of Stevie is based on that movie or hearing "I Just Called to Say I Love You" alone. The man dropped classic album after classic album for almost two decades from the late sixties through the early eighties....the "Woman in Red" soundtrack (which isn't even bad per se, just not up to his regular standards) aside, you could extend this through to his 1985 release "in Square Circle", which, although not usually grouped in with legendary LP's such as "Innervisions", "Songs in the Key of Life", and "Musiquarium:, happens to be one of my favorites.
Anyway, the real thing about Stevie Wonder, as far as I am concerned, is the range of emotions that his music possesses. Seriously; regardless of what your mood is - maybe you just broke up with your girl, maybe you just caught up with an old friend, maybe you just fell in love, maybe you're thinking about what to do with your future - he's got you covered with something. He's been there just about every time my life has really gotten rough. He's got songs for when you're sad and need to feel better, or for when you're sad and just want to stew in your sadness for a while longer.
Selecting just a few tracks from his body of work is a bit difficult, so I'm just going to go with a few personal favorites....First up is "That Girl" off of his "Musiquarium" double album from 1982. The quality on this video isn't that great, but i just love the fact that it's live from '82.
"Living for the City" is from his 1973 release "Innervisions". This video is best watched while wearing headphones (edit - actually all of these are best played loud with headphones)!!! I love this version.
This next one I actually chose for the second song in the video: "Maybe Your Baby", which is taken off of his 1972 LP "Talking Book". The version was just too sick to pass up. Not that the first song - "Superstition", which is off of the same album - is bad by any means, but it's not one I would have chosen given the small scope of this post.
"Superwoman (where were you when I needed you)", off of "Music of my Mind" is one of my favorite Stevie Wonder cuts. Check for the transition at about 3:00....and the buildup near the end is absolutely ridiculous.
I could probably fill this up with about 40 songs pretty easily....I'll just leave it with this last one: "Love Having You Around", again off of "Music of My Mind".
I think I'll probably spend another few hours just on YouTube with these other videos! Hope you've enjoyed 'em!