Living as we do in our 24 hour cities,the title of this song still has an appeal over 40 years after it was written.
As a small boy,living in a Cornish village,my life was anything but “Living for the city”.At the time though,the music of Detroit resonated in my guts.When I first heard this song,I had to try to play it on a Piano.I didn’t have my own instrument but there was one at the Church I went to.I worked on trying to imitate the introduction to this song whenever I could.
So what was it about this song at this time?On the surface,Stevie Wonder was from a completely different background and culture.The words and music drew me in.It told a story of a city in a place that I had only read about about in history books.However unlike the history books,it cut through that Pseudo make believe world of niceness,and told how life was for so many.
These words tell a story of a boy from Missisippi.Not a boy out of Huckleberry Finn,but a boy from “Hardtown”.I lived that story cos Wonder through his genius used music and poetry to suck me in.From that moment on,even though I was later to major in classical piano and Organ,I was hooked on music and songs that told me stories that I could relate too.Real,raw,and in the now.
You know,I learnt more about the USA from that one song than I had,up until that point,from my history books.Stevie Wonder did that to a ten year old kid from a Cornish village.
That people,is why artistically you can’t ever have Depths without surfaces.This guy who subsequently went on to pen probably the most influential music of that time through “Songs in the key of Life”,was able to touch the guts of a boy born in a Cornish village in his own “Hardtown”,Cornwall.
This is my message,you have to communicate to the young through Channels that they can access.This is an artistic imperative IMHO.