Photos by Jennie McKeon
Is anyone else as thankful as I am to live in the same time period as Stevie Wonder?
I mean seriously, what a treat.
It’s a privilege to possess and listen to Stevie Wonder’s “Talking Book,” an album that touches every inch of your heart with a softness that rivals velvet. The 1972 record features many beloved songs from his body of work such as “You are the Sunshine of My Life,” “Superstition” and “I Believe.”
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life” is the opening track on Stevie’s 15th studio album. Sunshine of my life, apple of my eye — this song is sweeter than pie. This soft track deeply reminds me of my parents, who both adore Stevie as much as I do. Plus, they call me sunshine.
I’ve grown up listening to both Stevies, Stevie Nicks and Stevie Wonder. Don’t make me choose!
With the next song “Maybe Baby,” Stevie switches from R&B to a funkier style focused on rhythm and vocal runs for days. For added layers of genre, Stevie incorporates jazz vibes in “You’ve Got it Bad Girl,” and blues sounds with the harmonica in “Big Brother.” Pop flows through the veins of every song.
I saw Stevie at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in May, and his voice sounds exactly as it does on this album, maybe better. Also, if you haven’t already watched Stevie Wonder’s appearance on carpool karaoke with James Corden, look it up on Youtube. You’re welcome.
The first song Stevie sings in the karaoke video is “Superstition.” I’m not sure how I feel about the controversy around Stevie releasing the song before Jeff Beck, but I like both Stevie’s version and the version on “Beck, Bogert & Appice.”
Whichever side of the debate you fall on, “Superstition” is straight fire. I only wish my heart could match the beat of that song.
I’ve been drawn to “Blame it on the Sun” from the first moment I heard it. The combination of low vocals and sincerity in Stevie’s voice captures regret and bottles it up in this three-minute song of somber. It’s also the song I most connect with the album cover, in which Stevie thoughtfully looks down at the ground.
Stevie often alludes to the sun in his lyrics, many times on this album and others. For him, the celestial being evokes hope and love. When missing, neither are present.
On the subject of celestial beings, I want to again thank the universe for allowing Stevie and I to co-exist.
But I’ll blame it on the sun
The sun that didn’t shine
I’ll blame it on the wind and the trees
— “Blame it on the Sun”
For some reason I always contrast this song with my 100-percent favorite Stevie song, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing.” In disappointment, I listen to “Blame it on the Sun.” In joy, I listen to “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” which was released on “Innervisions” a year after this album.
“Talking Book” is a must-have in any thorough record collection.
Hey, I'm Savannah. I collect records, and they collect dust. Like my preferred media form, I strive to not become obsolete. I created Off the Record as a way to turn my mind inside out, into something visual and tangible. One is the loneliest number, so I asked my friends to join.