The night before I was to embark upon a four-hour drive at 5:30 a.m., my daughters Kennedy and Morgan were listening to “American Wedding” by Frank Ocean. From a semi-conscious state I recognized the song as a rip-off of “Hotel California” by the Eagles. I informed them of this and they immediately Googled the song and played it. “Dangit, Dad, why did you ruin it for me. I actually thought there was a great song out there that was written today,” said Kennedy in mock disgust.
Less than six hours later I was on the road with my iPhone plugged into the car stereo. My traveling companion was Mr. Steveland Morris AKA Stevie Wonder. Over the course of my journey I came to a serendipitous epiphany. Mr. Wonder was not only my true introduction to the arts, but he was the composer of the soundtrack of my youth.
The very first album that I ever bought was his masterpiece “Innervisions” at 6 years old. As I pulled out of the garage and hit play on my iPhone, “Visions,” the second track on that album began to play. I was immediately transformed into a 6-year-old again. By the time that the iPhone got to my favorite lyric of all time “I reach for the part of me that lives in you that only our two hearts can find,” from “Knocks Me Off My Feet,” I was a precocious 10-year-old. When the GPS lady told me that I had arrived at my destination, I was 19 years old and finally old enough to be driving and Stevie was in the process of telling me where I had came from. Whereabouts from “In Square Circles” was playing and the lyric “My whereabouts are somewhere in yesterday with you,” engulfed me in emotion. The words were so prophetic. My lifelong journey as a lover of arts and culture was started with him when I was 6.
I often lament that my children will not have a Stevie Wonder of their generation to guide them on a curse-word-free, sexually-explicit-free, journey of beauty with an equitable proportion of poetry, rhythm, melody and harmony, played on real instruments by real human beings. I hope that he or she is out there somewhere. If you are please let us know your whereabouts. In the meantime my wife and I make sure that our kids know that Steveland is always available to take them on that journey to Wonderland.