The New Year: I Wonder What It’s Going To Bring
By George McGowan
Just last month, I was writing about celebrating the wonderful musicians who are still with us after a year of terrible losses. One of the most influential and prolific artists, who I didn’t mention last month, is Stevie Wonder. And wouldn’t you know, the online magazine SLATE created a special section of their website dedicated to “Wonder Week” which has several wonderful (no pun intended) stories on Stevie and his music. I encourage you all to check it out at: www.slate.com/articles/arts/wonder_week.html.
Our outgoing president and first lady, Barack and Michelle Obama, attribute their connection to a shared love for the music of Stevie Wonder. In fact, Stevie’s song “You and I” was their wedding song. Not to get too political but the impact that the Obamas have had on our pop culture cannot be measured by one song or one movie or one book. I hope their legacy of love for our diverse and important American pop culture continues beyond their years on the national stage. During his term in office, President Obama recognized 76 individuals or organizations with the National Medal of Arts, and hosted several memorable musical performances in the White House. Highlights of these performances are available for a short time now through www.whitehouse.gov/performances but will likely remain available on You Tube. I suggest checking out all of the performances honoring Stevie Wonder receiving the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
As for some more recent popular songs that I would recommend for the new year, I have two albums full of cover songs for you. The first, “Introducing Karl Blau” features Mr. Blau, who has been making music from the wilds of Washington State for many years – so don’t be fooled by this album title. Blau has a wonderfully unique and deep singing voice and uses it to great effect on some delightful material, including updates of the Tom T. Hall classic “That’s How I Got to Memphis” and Townes Van Zant’s “If I Needed You.” The other “new take on old songs” suggestion of the month is “Take It, It’s Yours” by Katy Goodman & Greta Morgan. The music is sweet, which makes the lyrics being delivered curious. The album is cover of punk rock songs but they are sung by this duo as it they were written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Trust me, try just one: “Where Eagles Dare” originally made popular by the Misfits.
And finally, New Year’s leads me to offer the following lyrics, from one of my favorite artists, Paul Weller (who is coincidentally also covered by Goodman and Morgan on their album). They are from his song, “Above the Clouds” and seem apt: “It must be me that’s rushing by, time just lingers on the wind. Bristlin’ through my open fears, I wonder what it’s going to bring.”