Stevie Wonder: “Big Brother”
Stevie Wonder’s talents are the stuff of legend; there’s no shortage of classic Wonder songs played on a regular basis on a variety of radio station formats. Nearly every one of his albums from the ’70s would be a worthy candidate for best album of the year that it came out in; his creativity was at its absolute peak during those years.
And yet there are great Wonder songs that don’t get played on the radio all that much from those albums, relatively lesser-known gems in the midst of the better-known hits. If you haven’t listened to the entire albums, some of these songs may have slipped through the cracks, although I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “obscure” — hard to call them that when all of those albums went gold or platinum and three of them won Best Album of the Year Grammies (in 3 out of 4 consecutive years).
Nonetheless, there are songs like “Big Brother,” from his 1972 album, Talking Book. It comes right on the heels of “Superstition” on the album, rising out of that song’s fadeout, and its quiet insistence after that song’s intensity heightens its power. It’s something of a folk-funk blend, as acoustic guitar blends with quiet percussion with a soulful groove, and Wonder’s lyrics laying out the plight of those overlooked by their governments, promised everything and receiving little, simmer with a subdued but potent anger.
Your name is “I’ll see ya”
I’ll change if you vote me in as the pres
The President of your soul
I live in the ghetto
You just come to visit me ’round election time
It’s one of Wonder’s most powerful songs, well-known or otherwise, a masterful stroke of social protest in song.
Previously Reselect-ed Stevie Wonder songs: “I Wish”