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Monday, March 26, 2007

Big Stevie and the seventies mentality

'Done' Stevie Wonder today. Found a book on him by accident today and couldn't stop myself. He has been I think one of the artists that grasped the timeframe of the seventies best. Probably because his 5 most important albums all were published in the same timeframe. The insecurities after the growth spurt of the end of the sixties, the clashing groups that all wanted their own freedom, the lack of ethical leadership, the search for new spiritual standards and the slow and sometimes painful path to individual freedom and self expression that marked this period, you'll find it all in his astonishing collection: Music Of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness First Finale and the masterpiece Songs In The Key Of Life. 5 albums in 4 years. I can remember 'Songs' coming out and what an immediate effect that had. A total outburst of creativity that didn't even fit a double album, so we got an extra EP with it. The album was in the charts for over a year. Songs about the healing power of spirituality (whether Jesus or Transcendent Meditation, it did not matter to Stevie) and love in uncertain times, positive reinforcement to hold on to. His faith in the world: we can still make it together, if we hold on to certain universal truths (exactly what makes him so fitting to the 'bad opening' of this period). I even brought the album to class (in those days we had someone teaching us about the society around us: maatschappijleer) for a discussion. There were so many things to say on that album: the longing for a time of childlike innocence in I Wish and My Mama's Call, the spiritual search in Love's In Need Of Love Today and of course the healing power of Black Man, where every invention is distributed to different races, claiming equality and creativity for all. Some songs may have been too seventies for now, but other songs could just have well been sung at the end of the nineties, when we again were going through uncertain times (bad opening), looking for clues to hold on to and looking for new innocence.
Again, this will be a piece for the book, in Dutch, soon.

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