Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


The 60 year old genius

stevie wonder 06
I’d like to be the first to wish Stevie Wonder a happy sixtieth birthday. That’s why I’m doing it two months early. (Well, it was either that or get the date right. And that’s not the kind of operation I’m running here.) After the jump – chosen, admittedly, off the top of my head – are half a dozen of my all time favourite tracks.
Fingertips #1 & #2 (1963)

From ‘The 12 Year Old Genius.’ Stevie is on vocals, bongos and harmonica. Marvin Gaye is on drums.

Uptight (1965)

The first stone cold classic. Later pilfered shamelessly by a band whose name doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned on the same page.

I Was Made to Love Her (1967)

Perhaps my favourite of them all. The best bit is where he refers to himself in the third person. “You know Stevie ain’t gonna leave you, baby…” So cool. He’s only seventeen years old.

I Don’t Know Why (1968)

Later covered by the Stones the night Brian Jones was found dead.

Living For The City (1973)

If he was a genius at 12, its hard to think of a word to describe what he had blossomed into by 23. Even the endlessly arrogant Kanye West admits it would be sacrilege for any artist to even attempt to emulate Wonder’s classic albums of the early Seventies – Talking Book and Innervisions.

Sir Duke / I Wish (1981)

“Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand…” By the time he recorded Songs in the Key of Life in 1976, Stevie Wonder was at the height of his powers. Of course, it was all downhill from there. But he had nothing left to prove. This version of of his Duke Ellington tribute was recorded live in Tokyo in 1981.

March 6th, 2010.

9 Responses to “The 60 year old genius”

  1. graham Says:

    Love that living for the city video. Didn’t even think they did videos that far back. On question though. Is part of it stolen from an advert for Ajax floor cleaner?

  2. tad Says:

    Eoin: 1 thing about ol’ Stevie (4 the 1st 15 or so yrs of his career at least), he almost always sounded like he was havin a really great time, so the listener had 1 2.
    “I Was Made to Love Her” is a stone classic, but 1nce U get started on the great stuff it’s hardta stop: “Higher Ground,” “For Once In My Life,” “My Cherie Amour,” “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” “Isn’t She Lovely,” “I Wish,” “That Girl,” “If You Really Love Me,” “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” “Superstition”… (& have U heard “A Seed’s A Star/Tree Medley” offa that SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS album? It’s great!)
    Almost all his hits still sound great, & even better as I get older. Stevie’s 60? Jeez, I feel old 2…. — TAD.

  3. Fat Tony Says:

    Some good choices. Some odd choices. But no Supersticion?

  4. sarah Says:

    My fave Stevie track is So hard to choose but I’d have to say is You are the Sunshine of my life. Makes me *swooooooon*

  5. Eoin Says:

    @ graham – I’d guess by the look of it that video was made in the early 1980s. And yes, it does appear some of it was borrowed from an Ajax advert.

    @ Tad – not forgetting he wrote the music to Tears of a Clown for Smokey Robinson

  6. Peter81 Says:

    @TAD – “SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS album? It’s great!)”

    Really? I’ve thought about getting this album, even held it in my hands a few times in the shop but always put it down. His output up to that point was stellar so I’d like to believe you.

    Also a big shout out for “Where Im Coming From” [1970], sort of the bridge album between Motown pop and TONTO Moog. It has some great songs.

    Song:Tuesday Heartbreak

  7. tad Says:

    @peter81 — Just the 1 song off SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS, “A Seed’s A Star/Tree Medley.” The rest of the album just sounded like synthesized soundtrack mush, 2 me — not enuf of Stevie. But that 1 song shoulda been on a single — it had some real excitement & emotion & that early-’70s Stevie soul. Don’t waste your money on the whole 2-disc set; maybe you can download the song somewhere…. — TAD.

  8. Peter81 Says:

    Cheers TAD, good tip!

  9. Kevin Says:

    The O2 24th June!

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