Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No. 284: Music of my Mind

Band: Stevie Wonder
Album: Music of my Mind
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: The first of what are considered Wonder's great five albums, "Music of my Mind" is Wonder's virgin foray into funk. Unlike his squeaky clean Motown-sounding records, "Music of my Mind" utilizes his stable of keyboards and synths.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I just don't find the record to be exciting. There are a couple of upbeat numbers, but the record is mostly forgettable songs.
Best song: "Love Having You Around" is bizarre, but fun.
Worst song: I don't care for "Evil."
Is it awesome?: The seeds are there, but the plants didn't sprout until later.

Here's something I've been wondering: Are all keyboards the same, in terms of ability to play them? Steve Wonder is, without a doubt, a nearly unmatched musical, so I guess my assumption that he can play any keyboard is fine. But, can a piano player pick up a Moog or an Arp synth and bang something out? How about a harpsichord?


There are two things I need to remind myself when thinking about "Music of my Mind. The first is written on the back of the album cover: "this album is virtually the work of one man." Wonder played all the instruments on this album, save for one trombone part and one guitar solo. That, in and of itself, is impressive. I know a few artists on the list did similar things -- "The Downward Spiral" comes to mind -- but, considering Wonder's blindness, it's even more impressive.

The other fact I have to remember is that the record was recorded in 1971. Stevie Wonder was born in 1950. When I was 21, I was watching "Spongebob" on mute while listening to King Crimson records (don't knock it until you've tried it) and eating Cheetohs for breakfast. So, yeah. Impressive.

With all that said, I am not the world's biggest "Music of my Mind" fan. Unlike "Talking Book" or "Innervisions" there is no "Superstition" or "Higher Ground" and there is no string of genius like "Songs in the Key of Life." It's a nice record that works very well as background music.


For what it's worth, the album opener is my favorite on the record. The song's synth part is raucuous and Wonder is clearly enjoying himself. Still, the chorus lyrics are, um, strange.

Every day I want to shake your hand, yea, yea, yea,
For in the world makin' me a better man,
And every day I want to get on my camel and ride

Um. A camel? What? Why does he have a camel? Are there a lot of camels in Detroit?

1 comment:

kellydwyer said...

I've led off, like 182 mix-cds with "Love Having You Around." I don't care that it's about 48 minutes long.