Sunday, January 17, 2010

Martin Luther King Day - "Free"

Photo: Michael Ochs archive - Venice, CA

 S-t-e-v-i-e W-o-n-d-e-r !!!!!!!!!!! - "Free" 
(click "free" to link)

Another beautiful, beautiful song.  And can you believe the Cuban "Son" guitar playing?  

Stevie Wonder was the musical soundtrack to my early life.  I've told you I was born in Honolulu and spent my adult life in NYC, but my growing up was spent in Flint, Michigan.  Saginaw, where Stevie was born, is just a couple miles over. And of course Stevie made his glorious sounds in Detroit.  The Motown sounds (Flint is/was "Motor CITY") and ESPECIALLY Stevie Wonder were the ambient life blood of my town: my highschool, the cars in the streets, the parties, the dances, the drive-ins, the parking lots.  It was all about Motown.  When we moved into the neighborhood the first thing people brought to us were Motown records.

I went to a fully integrated school - where being mostly half-Chinese, half-Italian, my siblings and I had alot of explaining to do.  And frankly, it was the black kids who "owned" us.  The two chinese families in school with us thought what we were about was ALL WRONG and the white kids didn't really know what to make of us.  The black kids wanted to know, what were we - Black or White?  (We had just spent a summer in Hawaii and we were very dark.) They were fascinated by my sister's silky flat chinese hair and loved to caress it.  They wanted us to choose. THEM!  Cause they'd already chosen us. They possibly knew better than anybody else already what it was to be "mixed". I can't name ALL the kids I went to school with and danced with over the years (I AM talking to you though George Garrett, McKinley Pouncil! And Paula Patrick!), but you can tell by the names of my black teachers that "mixed" is normal in the black community and historically, not always by choice.  So Mrs. Cabell - gym teacher, Mrs. Diaz - French teacher for what, 3 years?, Mrs. Waller - geometry teacher, Mr. Turner - Harlem Renaissance teacher and coolest football coach ever and devoted friend to so many many young and old, oh my art teacher from 6th grade who followed us to Jr. High or High School and wore his dashiki and his fez to work and prayed at the Baha'i temple, I'm sure I am leaving someone out........I think of you today, on Martin Luther King's Day, as I think of you so very often.  Often when I'm listening to Stevie.

Free like the river
Flowin' freely through infinity
Free to be sure of
What I am and who I need not be
Free from all worries
Worries prey on oneself's troubled mind
Freer than the clock's hands
Tickin' way the times
Freer than the meaning of free that man defines
Life running through me
Till I feel my father God has called

Me having nothin'
But possessing riches more than all
And I'm free
To be nowhere
But in every place I need to be
Freer than a sunbeam
Shining through my soul
Free from feelin' heat or knowing bitter cold
Free from conceiving the beginning
For that's the infinite start

I'm gone - gone but still living
Life goes on without a beating heart

Free like a vision
That the mind of only you can see

Freer than a raindrop
Falling from the sky
Freer than a smile in a baby's sleepin' eyes

I'm free like a river
Flowin' freely to infinity
I'm free to be sure of what
I am and who I need not be
I'm much freer - like the meaning of the word free that
crazy man defines
Free - free like the vision that
The mind of only you are ever gonna see
Free like the river my life
Goes on and on through infinity

Don't you love the little smile on Stevie's face when he says he is working on being free?  Aren't we all trying too with that little smile?  Doesn't great music make us feel just a little freer?


  1. lovely post! and yes stevie wonder all the way (I was once very fortunate to be in a private function with him. a dinner with some 50 people or less and then just him with the piano. fabulous!). kenza.

  2. Hi Ladies! Maia you sound SO in love with your new lens. And Kenza - lucky lucky you! I would die. I can't imagine how wonderful that must have been! I have to say that just doing this Stevie "research" for these posts has made me soo sooo happy. His songs have that effect on me. Glad you like him too.

  3. Love this post, as much for documentation as the feeling. I think a lot of us grew up with all kinds of olio around us, and hopefully the end of that process is more and more of the world we are seeing now.

    We're all mutts in the end, and if I'm an Anglo- Saxon mutt through and through, doesn't mean I'm not a mutt... or wishing I had some darker skin in the mix, which would be very helpful under the sun in these ozone-diminished days!

  4. I couldn't agree more. Stevie Wonder is brilliant. And that Motown sound was fantastic.

  5. Hi Des and "Scraps of Life" - Thanks for weighing in. I could go on and on about Stevie. I'm not sure he's as appreciated as he should be. Good news is, he doesn't seem to be bothered about that at all. He just carries on being as WONDERful as he is.

    And "Scraps" - Yes I do think we're all alot more mixed than we know and it IS a good thing. I am ALL about bio-diversity.