What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this album was not only very popular in its own time (the early '70s) but also has been an ongoing influence on other artists and remains timely today. Wonder's concept album about his life and times isn't afraid to look at things that aren't pretty, from social injustice, hopelessness, and drug addiction to sleazy leaders, self-serving hucksters, and pitfalls for the naive. But his determinedly positive outlook sweetens the tender moments and makes the satirical commentary more telling.
What's the story?
It's the early '70s, Nixon is president, the Vietnam War is still on, life at home is contentious and turbulent. Stevie Wonder's life-and-times album, INNERVISIONS, captures moods and perspectives from gentle romance to spiritual exploration to biting social commentary. While the artist looks into some dark corners of the human soul, his outlook remains insistently positive -- as he says in the reincarnation-themed \"Higher Ground,\" \"Gonna keep on trying till I reach my highest ground.\" Besides \"Higher Ground,\" some of the album's best-known tracks are the searing \"Living for the City,\" the tender ballad \"Golden Lady,\" and the upbeat \"Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing.\"
Is it any good?
Innervisions finds Wonder at the height of his powers. It won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1973, topped the R&B charts, and reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200; "Living for the City" went on to win the Grammy for R&B Single of the Year in 1974. Both "Higher Ground" and "Living for the City" topped the R&B and pop singles charts in their day. Not only that, the album's songs have been widely covered by other artists -- perhaps most famously, "Higher Ground" was the breakthrough single for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1989. (Later, Lindsay Lohan did a version of "Living for the City.")
Commercial success aside, this album continues to deserve attention, for the excellence of Wonder's music, lyrics, and imagination. And also because, decades later, it seems timely as ever.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the social issues that were so pressing when Stevie Wonder made this album -- poverty, racism, war, people taking advantage of these situations -- still seem to be with us. How do they crop up in daily life today?
Why do you think the songs on this album have been so popular with artists of so many different styles and generations, right up to today?
Do you know any people like the fast-talking guy at the beginning of "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing," who seem to think it's really important to make people think they're really important?