Stevie Wonder: Prophet

It’s patently obvious that Stevland Hardaway Morris, a.k.a. Stevie Wonder, is a musical genius. I can’t think of many people in history who have created such an extensive catalog of brilliant music. Three consecutive albums of his won “Album of the Year” Grammies, a feat never achieved before or since. I’m just scratching the surface of his prowess, both musical and personal. Scan his Wikipedia entry for more details of his incredible contributions.

It boggles my mind to think that one of his masterworks, the album “Innervisions”, my personal favorite, was recorded when he was only 23 years old!! (What were you doing at 23?) Not only was it an outstanding musical tour de force, it also revealed one of his heretofore unknown gifts, that of prophet.

Read these lyrics from the great song, “He’s Misstra Know-It-All” and tell me whether this guy precisely described our 45th president 43 years before he was elected:

He’s a man
With a plan
Got a counterfeit dollar in his hand
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Playin’ hard
Talkin’ fast
Makin’ sure that he won’t be the last
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Makes a deal
With a smile
Knowin’ all the time that his lie’s a mile
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Must be seen
There’s no doubt
He’s the coolest one with the biggest mouth
He’s Misstra know-it-all

When you tell him he’s livin’ fast
He will say what do you know
If you had my kind of cash
You’d have more than one place to go
Ooh

Any place
He will play
His only concern is how much you’ll pay
He’s Misstra know-it-all

If he shakes
On a bet
He’s the kind of dude that won’t pay his debt
He’s Misstra know-it-all

When you say that he’s living wrong
He’ll tell you he knows he’s livin’ right
And you’d be a stronger man
If you took Misstra know-it-all’s advice oh oh
Ooh

He’s a man
With a plan
Got a counterfeit dollar in his hand
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Take my word
Please beware
Of a man that just don’t give a care no
He’s Misstra know-it-all (look out he’s coming)

Dum bum bum ba bum bum,
Dum bum bum ba bum bum
Bum bum bum bum bum say
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Can this line, take his hand
Take your hat off to the man who’s got the plan
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Every boy take your hand
To the man that’s got the plan
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Give a hand to the man
Don’t you know he’s got the plan
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Give a hand to the man
You know damn well he’s got the super plan
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Give a hand to the man
You know damn well he’s got the super plan
He’s Misstra know-it-all

If we had less of him
Don’t you know we’d have a better land
He’s Misstra know-it-all

So give a hand to the man
Although you’ve given out as much as you can
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Check his sound out
He’ll tell it all
Hey you talk too much you worry me to death
He’s Misstra know-it-all

(Although I’d never noticed this until hearing the song recently for the first time in a long while, I’m not the first to make this connection. It bears repeating, however, because it serves us all well to (1) be reminded of Stevie’s brilliance and (2) further expose the target of these lyrics as the scoundrel he is.)

Feeling bad ain’t good enough

I have an inordinate affinity for little-known, minor musical artists from the late 60’s to early 70’s. Working for two record companies (you remember “record companies”, don’t you?) during that period only served to feed my obsession. I got to know bands who barely made it out of the warehouse. Most belonged there but some deserved a better fate.

Among my favorite obscurities are Stackridge (produced by the incomparable George Martin), Lindisfarne (pride of Newcastle), Emit Rhodes (the one-man Beatles), Roy Buchanan (the most soulful guitarist ever), and Ralph McTell (troubadour extraordinaire). Others, such as John Kongos, Seatrain, and Andrew Gold, are slightly better known but still vastly underappreciated. I exult in these musical phantoms.

The unfamiliar band that’s been in my brain of late is one McKendree Spring. (I’m not alone in my admiration. Legendary rock promoter/manager/impresario Bill Graham justifiably called them “one of the best unknown bands in the world.”) IMHO their third album, the aptly titled “McKendree Spring 3” is a masterpiece. What all this rambling is leading to is a song on that LP that has captured my attention and won’t let it go. Although included on the 1971 release, the song “Feeling Bad Ain’t Good Enough” couldn’t be more timely. It could have been triggered by yesterday’s news. Or today’s. Or tomorrow’s. Check out the chorus:

Feeling bad ain’t good enough now
For something you ain’t done.
Especially when the crazy man,
He’s reachin’ for his gun.

It has everything but the #enough. Feeling bad isn’t good enough. Nor are your thoughts and prayers, although I believe in the power of prayer.

The early date of the recording and certain lyrical references (“What was that voice from the tower; what was it trying to prove?”) indicate that the song could have been inspired by one of the early mass shootings in this country, that of the University of Texas Austin tower sniper. It’s sad to think that, in the 52 years since that tragedy, we’ve become inured to these events. In fact, we expect them now. A handful of people killed by a lone shooter barely makes a ripple in the mud puddle known as the evening news. In spite of the fact that mass shootings have escalated along with gun ownership, the powers-that-be continue to rant that more guns is the answer. Rather than fight back, our spineless lawmakers grovel before the nation’s largest terrorist organization, the NRA.

#enough

Where did that come from?

3dogcyan

(This isn’t a post-day, but this hit me out of the blue.)

Just minutes ago, during a football game I was watching, a commercial came on for very large bank – you know, one of those that’s too big to fail. Serving as sonic backdrop to the inane activity in the ad was a 41-year-old pop song: “Shambala” by Three Dog Night.

Wow.

I already ranted about this phenomenon in a previous post on my other blog, so I won’t do it again, but each time one of those old songs pops me into the Wayback Machine, I’m amazed.

And grateful. ūüôā