It Hardly Matters

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Bit of Stevie

So I'm trying to write about Stevie Wonder. It's difficult. But here's what I've come up with. For my grad school friends: it's part of a longer piece (wink), called Prescriptions for the Soul.

Track 1: Fingertips Pts. 1 & 2

For fans of apt introductions. For enthusiasts of raw talent. For prepubescence. For rhythm and commands from bandleaders. For blindness and vision, extrasensory perception, the feel of cool ivory under your fingerprints. For witnessing something important. For articulation. For the beginning, the beginners. For people who like things in parts. For promise. For hope. For permission.

I’m watching a black and white video from the early 1960s. The music starts immediately, mid-harmonica solo. He’s lip-synching but no one cares, if they know. He is high-pitched, and young. He’s standing in a bible-salesmen suit on an empty stage, no band, feet close together in shined shoes. He can’t stop moving, he’s electrified. The audience, mostly female black teenagers, claps along, slightly out of time, slightly bewildered. They smile teenaged smiles colored with embarrassment, self-consciousness and fear. Several of them are wearing cheerleader sweatshirts with large white Es on the front. He sings to them, asks them to clap louder, and they do. (Robert Plant will borrow this vocal riff from him years later when he sings, “lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time” on “Rock and Roll”.) He’s a child, but I suspect he already knows things we don’t know. I’m watching him and I’m thinking: thank you.

(Stomp your feet, jump up and down, do anything that you wanna do!)

It'll go on from there, through every track on the 4-disc set, At the Close of a Century. Oh, and here's the Fingertips video.


  • really, really beautiful. here's to beginnings!

    By Blogger molly, at 8:07 PM  

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