|Stevie Wonder in his "second home" Chicago - credit E. Jason Wambsgans|
Seeing Stevie Wonder on his "Songs In the Key of Life" Tour stop in Chicago drove home a few very important points about the impact of music in our lives. While I have been very intentional with what music my family and I listen to, I am convinced that that is an exercise we all should practice. Listening to Stevie for 3 plus hours reminded me of my childhood and the impact his music had and continues to have on me as an individual.
Songs in the Key of Life was playing in the background for much of my childhood years. Released in the fall of 1976, this critically acclaimed album really became the soundtrack of not just my childhood but really my entire life. Track by track, I've listened to throughout my years, each having different significance at different eras.
Some of these songs swept me back to simpler times, when I as 6 or 7 years old and my extended family congregated on weekends in the basement of one of my uncles homes on Chicago's south side. Just hearing the opening bars to Sir Duke send a chill up my spine and makes me physically smell smoke - all bringing good memories of "get togethers" and lots of talking, laughing and eating with my dad's side of the family. I can see my dad and at least 5 of his 8 brothers playing cards around a table across from the bar.
Other songs empowered me to get involved in politics early in my 20s while living on Chicago's north side. They served as a reminder from where I'd come to where I'd had the opportunity to go. Battling the contrasts of what I saw - always from a distance - growing up to what I was experiencing as a new young adult emboldened me to speak up and stand up for those whose voices were often not heard in the greater narrative of our country's story.
Yet others gave me hope for love. Love that was true, lasting and real and thanks to Steve's pen - attainable to me. From his loving tribute to his first born to his excruciating descriptions of love lost or worth fighting for, love became something I wanted and something I already had. Songs inspired me to love myself above all else as a vehicle for experiencing love with others.
I am certain that because of this album, I have been very intentional about what music I listen to, even in the background. Words, rhythms, beats and harmonies seep into our souls. We have a responsibility to be intentional about every one we allow in.
Thank you, Stevie for the reminder.