“Songs in the key of life” was the eighteenth album by Stevie wonder, a renowned recording artist of the 1970s era. Motown records, which Wonder was working with, released the album on September 28, 1976 (Neal, 2003). Prior to this, it had been recorded at Crystal Studio in Hollywood although some of its sections were recorded in other locations in New York and Hollywood. “Songs in the key of life” from then on became one of the best-selling and critically acclaimed albums. In fact, in 2005, it appeared in the 57th place in Rollingstone’s list of 500 of the best albums ever. It was even archived in the National Recording registry the same year by the library of congress on the commentary that it was “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
“Songs in the key of life” represents a picture of the broader “classic” period albums of the 1970s. Stevie Wonder himself was one of the most popular celebrities in R&B and pop music genres at the time. The album therefore includes songs that revolve around these genres and the name of the album is pivoted on proposals for indefinite success and the complex “Key of life.”
When we consider the musical aspects, generally, the album can be described as a both hard and bold swing for the fences which employs over 100 backing musicians (Wonder, 2000). It also worked with a canvas that integrated jazz, rock, pop and classical music. Stevie Wonder valiantly touched on the topic of inner-city degradation employing a funky snap on “black man” and a string-based backing on the “Village Ghetto land.” Through some of the songs, we can conclude that religion and romance is brought forth (“Have a Talk With God” and “Knocks me off my feet”). He then delves into feel-good pop in “Sire Duke” and again jumps into jazz-rock jamming in “Contusion.” He bended the songs into likable music with his unerring sense of hooks and creative whim. Most of the songs ran up to eight minutes in length.
Taking “Sir duke,” “I wish” and “Black Man” into account, we can take note of how Wonder picks lushly layered and expansive affairs and then crafts them to fit his lyrics. In “sir duke,” he has paid tribute to one of his mentors, Duke Ellington, probably remembering Wes Montgomery and Dinah Washington who were also his idols but unfortunately passed on (Wonder et al, 1998). In simple words, Wonder wanted to acknowledge musicians who he perceived as important. The song is a “sweet-sounding” pop, indorsing instruments such as rhythm guitar, bass guitar, saxophones and drums. On another scale, “I Wish” progresses around an 8-note bass line which is composed of a Fender Rhodes electric piano. It is repeated through the whole song but not in the bridge. The song focuses on his childhood days and appeared as number one hit on Billboard 100 souls singles chart. Lastly, “Black man,” which displayed Wonder’s wish for an interracial harmony, used color-based terminology to pass on his remarks and desires.
To conclude, we can term “songs in the Key of Life” as a sprawling vision from an individual who has sight that is rendered infinite by the powers of love and faith. Wonders mix of R&B, pop and jazz makes it even more interesting and broad. The album is simply a work of art which rises above its circumstances of creation.
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