Or, if you watch this video after the sun comes up, your day.
Starting off, my favorite pop song of all time. To have live vocals on a broadcast this old is a joyous surprise. Then an interview where Mike Douglas fumbles a little with his words and where Stevie is, as noted, just 16, but all in all leaves you thinking and smiling in equal intensity. Last, an underrated song and a perfect one to bring us into morning.
Rocket Love, from Stevie Wonder’s 1980 Hotter than July album. Sweat! “You took me riding in your rocket, gave me a star, but at a half a mile from heaven, you dropped me back down to this cold, cold world…”
The Harder They Come, Jimmy Cliff, for warmth and justice. “So as sure as the sun will shine, I’m gonna get my share now of what’s mine…”
Lovers in the Cold, Springsteen Born to Run outtake. “Tonight we’re lovers on that road, oh-oh-oh, running past the graveyards in the snow, oh-oh-oh, walking in the street with nowhere to go, oh-oh-oh…”
There are at least 50-75 better Stevie Wonder songs. Blindfolded, you can drop a bucket anywhere in iTunes and pull 20 far better. This song isn’t even the best on Stevie’s Christmas album. Someday at Christmas takes more chances in the borderland between Motown and Jesus and earns more reward. One Little Christmas Tree isn’t too bad either. This album comes just after Little Stevie Wonder drops the diminutive, and the Detroit assembly line gives him none of the genius of the previous year’s Uptight (as I’ve said before, the greatest pop song of all time).
But What Christmas Means to Me is the kitchen sink at the time of year everyone wants to be in the kitchen. The smells are everywhere, and something delicious has to be around. All the early Stevie tricks, all the mid-Motown sounds, they gather then ’round the fire and sing. What’s next? Presents? Sleigh rides? Whom you’re with makes the holiday.
And you know what I mean
I see your smilin’ face
Like I never seen before
Even though I love you madly
It seems I love you more
And little cards you give me
Will touch my heart for sure
Anyway. The songs I’ll be hoping to hear this weekend are three: Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone, in original rock or dance remix versions, because every sellout deserves a opportunities for brief redemption; Amerie’s 1 Thing (full audio), because go-go deserves a goodtime jangle and a woman’s voice, Georgetown-graduated to boot; and Signs from Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake and Charlie Wilson, because it’s Snoop … but sparkly.
I’ll also be listening for the first single from Stevie Wonder’s long, long-delayed new album. The album is A Time 2 Love, the single is So What the Fuss. The Tom Joyner Show is going nuts for the funkiness this week, but right now I don’t think the funk quotient redeems the shame hammer hanging over the whole thing. “Shame” in the verses, “shame” in the chorus. Listen for yourself on this Stevie fan site. I need to hear it some more and figure out if I’m missing something.
The New York Times reports: “In a set that stretched until after 3 a.m., he often improvised nonsense words and slightly naughty rhymes like a gleeful schoolchild, pausing between songs to sip honey out of a plastic bear.”