As tomorrow is the legendary Stevie Wonder’s 62nd birthday, it goes without saying that his career,spanning almost 50 years now, is among the most complete, influential, amazing and phenomenal of them all, one part of Stevie’s musical bag that everyone can relate to and adore is his ballad/love song/slow jams game.
From the time his voice changed to what we know it as now in the mid 60s to today, Stevie’s voice seemed destined to carry a message of love in all of his music, but when he made love songs, there always seemed to be a longing, an aching, a hoping and wondering behind whatever story Stevie was telling in those songs.
Arguably the prime examples of the various stages of love in Stevie’s music were the two albums he dropped in 1972, Music of my mind (review here) and Talking Book. It seemed the albums were love letters and musings of the end of his marriage to the late Syreeta Wright, ranging from joy (“I love every little thing about you”) to hopeful passion (“You and I”) to the beginning of the end (“Superwoman,” “Blame it on the sun,”) to contemplating life after the breakup (“Seems so long,” “Lookin for another pure love” and “I believe when I fall in love”). Those songs on those two albums take you through the relationship stages so flawlessly, you have to believe Stevie planned it that way.
Of course, those aren’t the only songs in Stevie’s love song arsenal. You have that innocent but exciting time of early infatuation found on “Golden Lady” from Innvervisions and “Too Shy To Say” from Fulfillingness’ First Finale, the wedding classics “Ribbon In The Sky” and”As” another great contemplation of the end in “Lately” and the joy of being in love”Knocks me off my feet” from Songs in the key of life.
To me, Stevie Wonder’s love songs are probably the greatest part of his music. There is literally a Stevie song for EVERY matter of the heart one can come up with.There are few artists who can match his catalog in general, but if you were to take his best ballads and make an album of it,you’d have arguably the greatest collection of love songs ever.
Everything love encompasses – passion,infatuation, arousal, happiness, joy, pain, anger, jealousy, sadness and heartbreak – can be found within Stevie’s slow stuff. And on the eve of his birthday, that is Stevie Wonder’s greatest gift to us all – the unmatched ability to express and define love through song.