Today, we get to listen to recording artist Stevie Wonder from back in 1973.
Stevie Wonder Innervisions
album cover art
As I’ve immersed myself in this Black History Month project, I’ve had some memories surface from long ago. I now view those experiences through a very different lens than I did at the time.
I was was a young child when Innervisions came out in 1973. As I got a little older and gained a musical awareness, singles from Innervisions were still in occasional rotation on the radio. They weren’t current top 40 hits by any stretch, but still, I knew these songs.
I remember one day finding Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions album in the stacks of my father’s records. I was not allowed to touch them – nor his turntable or tuner – but he was rarely ever around. All I had to do was wait until my mother was scarce, and I could pretty much have at it.
I played that record, both sides, straight through. And played it again. And again. I even dug out daddy’s 100% off-limits headphones so I could listen to it louder and with more clarity, alone inside my own head. Sure I was just a kid, but I got lost in that record. Musically and lyrically, Innervisions transported me to another world, one very different from my own. A Black world.
The music was positively bursting, full of struggle and pain, of power and pride, of musical exuberance and originality, of yearning and hope, of politics and poverty, and of characters and stories unlike anyone or anything I had known. And that was by design, by the way: I knew only a very insular, sheltered, and blindingly white world.
Innervisions gave me my first glimpse into Blackness. Now, looking back, I can see that was where my Black history lessons first began.
Of all the tracks on the album, Living for the City hit me the hardest, touched me the deepest. Here are two versions of it, plus a link to the album in its entirety. It changed me. I think it’s worth honoring and celebrating what is arguably Stevie Wonder’s finest work this Black History Month.
This is the radio edit (3:39):
Full-length version (7:22) from the album:
The whole album (nine tracks) can be played on YouTube here.
Day 1 of Black History Month 2022 (Lori Teresa Yearwood) is here.
Day 2 (Mallence Bart-Williams) is here.
Day 3 (Emmett Till) is here.
Day 4 (A Tale of Two Citizens) is here.
Day 5 (Trayvon Martin) is here.
Day 6 (Franchesca Ramsey) is here.
Day 7 (National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the Black Aids Institute) is here.
Day 8 (extreme racial disparities in marijuana arrests) is here.
Day 9 (Summer of Soul/1969 Harlem Cultural Festival) is here.
Day 10 (current and historic racist domestic terrorism, Steve Phillips/Democracy in Color) is here.
Day 11 (Gee’s Bend Quilters) is here.
Day 12 (egregious anti-Black (& anti LGBTQ+) behavior at a NY State high school is here.
Day 13 (Erin Jackson, 1st Black woman to win Olympic gold medal in speedskating) is here.