Album #47: Stevie Wonder- Innervisions
To trust the inner self, listen to the natural flow of your body, and surrender yourself to the great cosmic river is tough. But when you do, everything seems to get better. You do and say exactly what you need. You see the things that sight doesn’t. On Innervisions, released in 1973, Stevie Wonder flows with that inner guide to spin his best cut.
This record is my favorite Stevie Wonder record. Full stop. I remember, in my high school days, when I first heard that thick jazz synth bass and jilting harmony of “Too High” and can still feel the hot Maryland sun beating my back while listening to the spaced out “Visions.” I remember groggy mornings, drinking coffee, and doing a white-boy two step to “Higher Ground.” This record has attended my life in so many moments it informs my love of it as much as the music itself.
It was also my first exposure to jazz, R&B, gospel, and funk to a large extent, with the atonal bass chords, shimmering bells; gentle guitar, vocal melodies, diminished scales, long-form composition, and spacey synth.
Wonder’s rage as he belts out the final verses is unbearable, and cathartic, as the man is carted to his prison-doom.
Everyone else may vibe “Higher Ground,” but “Living for the City” is the standout and most important to me, personally, with its tale of a black man’s growth, from beaten down boy in the South to wrongfully accused man arrested under false pretenses. The song, horrifyingly enough, still retains ample relevance and resonance. Wonder’s rage as he belts out the final verses is unbearable, and cathartic, as the man is carted to his prison-doom. I developed an appreciation–if not a genuine understanding–of race in America through this song.
And, when all is said and done, a record you live with, learn from, and keep listening to for a decade, is a good record. At least for me. And now, I’m following my inner self. I don’t have to wonder if I’m alone, if I am. I know.
Until I reach higher ground.