Tuesday 20 December 2016

2016: The Tiring Year

I'm so tired. Of so many things.

I'm tired of people calling racists and anti-Semites the 'alt-right' when they are neo-Nazis. I'm tired of hearing that Trump won't be as bad as his campaign as if that makes it okay. I'm tired of Brexit and being told to get over it. I'm tired of Nigel Farage's fucking smug face appearing everywhere. I'm tired of the fact it gets dark at 4pm. I'm tired of our apathy towards Syria. I'm tired of our society's rejection of refugees. I'm tired of Labour's anti-Semitism problem. I'm tired of Ken Livingstone mentioning Hitler. I'm tired of the fact my cables take any opportunity to become hopelessly tangled. I'm tired of the UK government tip-toeing around Saudi Arabia's war crimes in Yemen. I'm tired of reading about terrorist attacks in European cities. I'm tired of reading about the seemingly unabetted march of fascism. I'm tired of fighting social battles over feminism, racism, homophobia and the like that we should have won years ago.

I think, like many, I am tired of 2016. All the people whose lives it has claimed, whether they be Syrians we have knowingly and callously abandoned or much-loved celebrities whose talents we never thought we would be without. All the political tragedies. (Yes tragedies, Brexit still upsets me, go away.) Life might not be one damned thing after another as Elbert Hubbard quipped, but 2016 at least has certainly seemed like one damned thing after another.

So when a friend sent me something on Stevie Wonder from slate.com I was excited. They describe 2016 as a year of almost unbearable loss, rather than one of unbearable tiredness, but the sentiment is the same. The opportunity, therefore, to celebrate, rather than mourn, a true great was one I was delighted to take. I have not been disappointed. If you, like me, have much love for Stevie; if he makes you smile like few others can, then head over to Slate. You are in for a treat. If you have not yet been exposed to his genius then your 2016 is about to improve immeasurably when you click this link to your Stevie starter kit. And for some gentle humour and Stevie Wonder actually calling someone to sing I Just Called To Say I Love You, you want to go here.

It is difficult to pick my favourite Stevie songs; his songs are so varied, his talent for so many different styles of music so vast. Here is a list of just five.

1. Ribbon in the Sky

This was my Dad's favourite when I was growing up, so I suppose there is some sentimental value to this choice. For a long time, it was also the only one of his songs that I actually knew was by him. The tune is beautiful, the lyrics majestic and the imagery superb. I will just leave it here for you to enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO2-kIqsGL4

2. As

I was initially torn on the part of this song where Stevie, as my Dad puts it, shouts. (Slate have the far better description of fozzie bear voice) I have grown to love it along with the rest of the song. There are plenty of rip-offs of this song, which is the basis of many declarations of love I have made. My favourite moment is towards the end when Stevie squeezes in four 'eights' when singing that he'll love you as long as 8x8x8x8 is four. The back-up singers only manage three. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYQfWJNWe3I

3. Superstition

Is any list of Stevie songs complete without this one? No words necessary. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CFuCYNx-1g

4. Evil

It is impossible to write about Stevie without mentioning at least one of his many political songs. A passionate campaigner for a plethora of worthwhile causes, not least the one to have Martin Luther King Jr's birthday recognised as a national holiday in the United States, Evil is a stark reminder of this side of Stevie's work. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZi4iruQcv4

5. My Cherie Amour

The second song of his that I ever heard, it is just a wonderfully simple, beautifully happy song. I have left off a huge number of songs of his that I love to include this in this list of five, which should give an indication of just how happy it makes me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Gu-CyE-NQ

2016 has been a trying, tiring year. Stevie Wonder does not make it all better, but it is perhaps the best we have on cold, dark December evenings. And he even has a Christmas album, which is a perfect snapshot into Stevie with a festive twist. One Little Christmas Tree and Someday at Christmas are my favourites of another brilliantly put together album.

If 2016 has been difficult then let Stevie try and help; he is helping me.

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