LO'S PICK OF THE DAY - "Contusion" by Stevie Wonder


Originally featured on Inside MusiCast


"Songs In The Key Of Life" was released on this date; September 28, 1976. 40 years ago!!! And yet, it had gone platinum before the release on September 7th.
I'm sure we can agree this 2-album set w/the bonus 45, has to be high on the favorite's list. Well, at least for me, it is. Having been 15 years old and just starting high school, this album changed the way I listened to music, to more of a sophisticated pop, R & B, funk, and sounds of Africa and progressive fusion jazz. Definitely an album that was ahead of it's time.
We can talk about the who's who on this album, but let me tell you, when I was 15, I didn't give a damn about the personnel!!! All I knew was that I was listening to a Stevie Wonder MASTERPIECE!!! Listening to it over and over, laying on the floor of my room, reading the INCREDIBLE liner notes, learning the lyrics to all of the songs, including, "Isn't She Lovely," "Sir Duke," "I Wish," "All Day Sucker" "Have a Talk with God." Trying to master the lyrics to "Ngiculela – Es Una Historia," "As," and "Another Star." And trying to be a funky Minnie Riperton in my bedroom singing her solo in "Ordinary Pain." And crying to "Knocks Me Off My Feet." "Songs. . ." WAS my life at that time. I wanted to consume it.
Living in Palm Springs, CA at the time, most kids my age, didn't really "GET" what Songs In The Key Of Life" was all about. They only liked what they heard on the radio, or so I felt was true. One of my best friends at the time was 13 and SHE understood it, enough that I loaned her my album! And the funny thing about that is; she wound up somewhat involved in the music scene via another Palm Springs resident; Anthony "Tony" Patler - former keyboardist for Chaka and also knew the great Snuffy Walden, who plays guitar on "All Day Sucker."
Anyways. . ."Songs. . ." has ceased to sound like an old, vintage album. In fact, the older it gets, it seems to attract new listeners.
When Stevie Wonder played here in Dec 2014, I took 4 of my 5 kids and my husband to see the "Songs. . ." tour live! And let me tell you, this was truly a dream come true for me! I couldn't believe that I would get to enjoy this album in an arena and with my family! Later my son posted on his Facebook that he couldn't believe he was seeing a legend live, ending with "Thanks Mom."
I wish I could've found a decent full album recording of "Songs. . .," but what I found was horrible. Choosing one song for the pick was really difficult. Each song is simply a masterpiece. But I settled on probably one of my top, top favorite tracks on this album. . . .
The Zappa inspired "Contusion."
When I was a teen, I was all about singing and pretty much kept to the tracks where I could just sing along or dance, dance, DANCE. So "Contusion" wasn't one that I listened to alot at that time. But I will tell you, as the years have gone on, "Contusion" has become more and more the track that is at the top of my playlist, listening sometimes a dozen times at one sitting because I'm trying so hard to listen to all the parts. It's ear candy and I still cannot get enough of it.
Those keys by Greg Phillinganes, Nathan Watts' muddy bass and Michael Sembello on guitar!! MAN!! The rhythm guitar of Ben Bridges. And Raymond Pounds attacking on his drum kit! WOW!!! And of course I LOVE the vocals.
Few people may not know that the title of the song was inspired, if you will, by the accident Stevie had been in a few years before and had suffered "contusions" in his brain and was in a coma for 5 days. And that the song was considered a epic fail of a choice for the "Songs. . ." album. Oh well. . .that's history and who the heck cares anyways. I'm glad it's there. I love that it precedes "Sir Duke." It sounds like it was supposed to be that way.
When Stevie Wonder performed it live 2 years ago, I could tell who was into it and who was not!! SAD!! Those who were there just to hear him sing the radio cuts robbed themselves of a phenomenal moment. Some people looked around at me when I was singing along. They just didn't get it!! But the ones who did!?!? Yeah. . . .(happy sigh). . . we were part of an elite club right there!
Thank you Stevie Wonder for not listening to the naysayers and creating a timeless masterpiece. It continues to live on and on!!


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