“Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.” — Stevie Wonder

It’s his birthday today.

I love that quote because I have so many memories “attached” to Stevie Wonder’s songs, so attached that they don’t feel “attached” at all. The song IS the memory. And more than a memory, really: these songs, which have been in my life for what feels like always, call forth eras, times, feelings, sense memory … the inchoate amorphous sense of an entire time. He was on heavy HEAVY rotation among my group of friends in college, and so his songs call forth college: hungover hilarious breakfasts, making out on a beach, late night tech rehearsals, driving home with the windows open, the whole glorious intense chaos of being a theatre major surrounded by best friends and boyfriends, working on creative things, trying hard, enjoying triumphs, striving, dreaming … Summer vacations. Going to the movies. Going through the drivethru for iced coffee and headed to the beach. Stevie Wonder blasting from the car speakers, from the boom boxes, played in the dressing rooms as we got ready for dress rehearsal. It’s a MOOD, it’s a VIBE. He’s hard to talk about, because of that. (I also love Wonder’s perspective on Elvis, how Elvis represented – embodied – without even knowing it, just by standing there – racial reconciliation and healing and how people cannot deal with it. He called him “a Caucasian brother” in an interview.)

If I HAD to choose my favorite, it’d probably “Signed Sealed Delivered”. It’s a seratonin-blast.

My brother Brendan included Stevie Wonder’s classic album Innervisions on his Best Albums list. It’s a really good read.

Thank you so much for stopping by. If you like what I do, and if you feel inclined to support my work, here’s a link to my Venmo account. And I’ve launched a Substack, Sheila Variations 2.0, if you’d like to subscribe.

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