“Stevie Wonder is cool” is the least controversial statement ever written. There ya go, I’ve done it. You were curious why you subscribe to this newsletter? Well, now you know.
With the Allen project, we've had the pleasure of sharing the bill with Stevie three times, the first of which being in a literal Roman amphitheater in Southern France. What a life changing experience that was. I mean, it’s a list as long as my arm all the ways that sharing a bill with Stevie Wonder is life changing, but what stands out the most as I’m writing this is how he made time for EVERYBODY. He was the first one at soundcheck. Management delayed doors because they literally couldn’t get Stevie off the stage - he was having too much fun, assing around with his pals, jamming through classic after classic, improvising chord changes for his freaking VOCAL WARM-UP that would be career defining discoveries for most songwriters.
After the show, a nearly four hour extravaganza, Stevie hung backstage for another two at least, shaking every hand, posing for every picture, never once raising his voice or betraying an ounce of resentment. He wanted to be there, and you were important. Genuinely.
Arguably the greatest living songwriter and inarguably the transcendent voice of our time is also the nicest and most patient artist I’ve ever met. I’ve never met Paul McCartney, the one living legend I’d put as Stevie’s equal, but I’ve heard it’s the same vibe. These guys are two of the most significant figures of the 20th century, as famous as human beings get, and they’ve both made a conscious choice to, well, be cool. And it really is a conscious choice, because I’ve seen first hand just how bananas Stevie Wonder’s day-to-day is and, let me tell you, even if you’re gifted with the disposition of Buddha on quaaludes, there’s more than enough going on to make you want to light catering on fire.
I suppose I’m relecting on all this because, as artists, we all have choices - to embrace change within our industry, to feel pride for simply having sat down to write, to acknowledge how unicorn-rare it is that there’s a tour bus for which we can forget the door code. And we can choose not to beat ourselves up for having a day where it all falls apart and we feel like quitting.
We can choose to believe in ourselves and our art. We're all worth it.