signed, sealed delivered*
Stevie Wonder opened his show talking about how his mother passed away last year, and it was hard because his mother was always a constant force in his life, pushing him to feel “normal.” He told us that when he was young his mother used to say to him that his blindness did not mean that he couldn’t go out and live life like everyone else. That was the perspective that I needed after my last few frustrating couple of days.
Stevie Wonder’s music was like a lighthouse sending light out, guiding me home. My weary spirit felt the surge of music; vibrancy pumped into me with each note sung; effervescence unleashed. I am always so amazed when I see a really and truly good musician, especially since I can’t play a kazoo without something sounding wrong. Oh, man, Stevie Wonder! His music is pure gold. Growing up in Michigan, raised by parents both of whom were from Detroit, and who lived through the Motown explosion, and were themselves only 10 years old when “Little Stevie Wonder,” burst onto the scene in 1962; through my "six degrees of Kevin Bacon," I still manage to feel such a connection to his music.
We were raised with oldies, spending car rides listening to oldies 104.3 WOMC out of Detroit, so it felt so right to be dancing to the music at the concert, something so familial and familiar. I wondered if I danced like my parents did when they were my age and heard Stevie Wonder on their old radio. Would they turn it up and grab onto each other, swinging around wildly and laughing? Did they sing the words loud and off key like I did? Would they throw their heads back and look out the window at the velvet blue sky overhead, dotted with almost indistinct twinkling stars and wonder what their life would be like in the years to come? Did they stop feeding the baby and get up to dance to their song, “You are the sunshine of my life,” when it came on the radio?
To me music is as much a part of my memories as my own thoughts and recollections of things. I can hear a song and feel as nostalgic as I do when I look at an old photo of my grandparents long since gone. I hear music and know where I was the first time I heard it and know exactly how I felt.
College K, Chris, and I were sitting around waiting for K & L to show up when this excited girl with red hair called out to us, “I’m so glad that there are other people my age here. I thought I was going to be the only young person here.” We smiled and nodded and she continued on, saying, “my Dad died when I was little, so Stevie Wonder has always been a father figure.” We sat there laughing to ourselves, admitting that she was probably high as a kite, but thinking about that girl now, I realized that sometimes the music; the journey that we take with it; aren’t some musicians just like surrogate parents that take us along for the ride? I remember feeling so estranged at times, as a teenager, that my parents didn’t understand me…but music always made sense. Surrogate parents, musicians may be…who knows.You decide.
So, I guess what I set out to do, and did rather miserably...is try to communicate to you that if you can ever go see Stevie Wonder in concert, do it, even if you weren’t raised with his music, he is utterly amazing.