It’s the 20th day and alas, we’ve reached the end of the road. For now. We’ve done jazz, gospel, industrial, instrumental, and more, which makes it difficult to come to the penultimate of such a journey. However, I think I have to give it to two of the greatest musicians of this or any other time to close out with a two-fer.
Stevie Wonder, one of the most prolific writers in my lifetime, has to make it on my list. There are so many songs that come to mind, but there are three of his that mean the most. I can’t say why, other than his musicianship. The first Golden Lady, while the second is Superwoman, which doesn’t get enough credit or play in my book. Donnie Hathaway, who was featured in the first part of this musical meander, does an amazing version of this song as well. The third, which perhaps you’ve never heard before is Feeding off the Love of the Land, which was a B-side that accompanied the closing credits to Spike Lee’s film, Jungle Fever. It remains amazing.
By way of finale, I offer one whose sound remains, even though the man left us before many could grasp the depth of his words.
The What’s Going On album wasn’t the first by Mr. Gaye, but I dare say it had the most impact on me. Sure, he’s known in R&B circles as this sexy singer, making the ladies drop by the droves, but this work from 1971, a reaction to the Vietnam War as well as the condition of black people in the U.S. at the time, certainly means more to me than his bigger hits, like ‘Let’s Get It On’. One song that gets to the heart of misery is ‘Save the Children’.
The musicianship here is beyond description. Featuring Mr. Gaye on lead vocals throughout, he also plays piano and box drum. Members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra appear and other instrumentation was provided by The Funk Brothers. Some of the background voices were provided by members of the Detroit Lions and Detroit Pistons, as well as a member of The Miracles, among others.
And there you have it.