Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Times, They Aren't a-Changin' Fast Enough, Stevie

Back in the summer of 1966, Stevie Wonder took his cover of "Blowin' in the Wind" to Number Nine on the pop charts and to Number One on the R&B charts. (For the record, Peter, Paul and Mary's version went to Number Two in 1963; Dylan's version did not chart.) Stevie was 16 at the time, and he's backed on the single by another, older-sounding male voice, echoing his lines gospel-style.

After a while, it becomes less of a backing vocal than a duet. When Stevie sings the line "How many years can a man exist before he's allowed to be free," the other voice chimes in, "Too many years have gone by already now, Stevie." It's a brilliant line, but the "Stevie" is what really makes it poetry.

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