Songs in the Key of Life Endures, Almost 40 Years Later

Tonight Stevie Wonder will perform a "live adaptation" of his 1976 album Songs In the Key of Life at Toyota Center. The 64-year-old pianist/composer/performer is one of the undisputed all-time greats, Motown Records' answer to Muhammad Ali (sorry, Marvin), but on the surface this still seems like a risky move. Beloved as it is, it's hard to get around the fact that the album was released coming up on 40 years ago. What could Songs In the Key of Life possibly have to offer listeners in 2015?

It's right there at the very beginning, as it turns out. The 21-song, 76-minute double LP opens with "Love's In Need of Love Today," a gentle song of healing that Wonder treats almost like a modern spiritual. "I have serious news to pass to pass on to everybody," he sings. "What I'm about to say could mean the world's disaster, could change your joy and laughter to tears and pain." Imagine Kanye opening his next album by announcing it's about to be a total bummer...yeah, right. (Although you never know.)

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray