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The Wild Stevie Wonder: Rolling Stone's 1973 Interview

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You were always the jealous type...
Well, not really. I wouldn't even show it — but I was.... This is like one thing that I've tried to do, and I think successfully, that when you realize that nothing really belongs to you, you begin to appreciate having an understanding of just where your head is at, and you feel so much better.

That's easy to say.
I know, but I'm telling you, I'm doing it, man!

How long did your marriage last?
A year and a half.

My lady friend, one thing we have that's good is she can feel people like I do, when you meet all the phony bullshit people, she's able to sense that, so I feel there is someone that is there with me.

I've never dealt with a woman on the "Stevie Wonder" level. When you meet someone and begin to like them, then you do let them know you even more personally than the public knows. There's not really a difference between me and "Stevie Wonder" — only thing is I'm not singing "Fingertips" or "Big Brother" or "Superstition" all the time. There's other things, listening to other people, and going to the park or seeing a movie or going bowling.

But the public Stevie Wonder is a lot of ideas and images that people have of you, regardless of what you actually are.
I know there are thousands of images of me. There was a guy one time, I heard: "Hey, uh, Stevie Wonder told me to come and get this grass from you, so where is it?" He said, "Stevie Wonder told you? He didn't, man, 'cause I'm his guitar player, and he doesn't even smoke grass. He doesn't even get high." I guess people expect or figure me to be a lot of different things.

You never got into drugs?
No.

Never?
I smoked grass one time and it scared me to death.

Put images into your head?
Well, things just got larger. It was something new and different, but I found I'm so busy checking things out all the time anyway that I don't really need it.

Are there times when you wish you could see?
No. Sometimes I wish I could drive a car, but I'm gonna drive a car one day, so I don't worry about that.

And fly, too?
I've flown a plane before. A Cessna or something, from Chicago to New York. Scared the hell out of everybody.

Who was your copilot — God?
No [laughs], this pilot was there, and he just let me handle this one thing, and I say "What's this?" and we went whish, whoop...

You've actually said that you considered your blindness to be a gift from God.
Being blind, you don't judge books by their covers; you go through things that are relatively insignificant, and you pick out things that are more important.

When did you discover that there was something missing, at least according to other people's standards?
I never really knew it. The only thing that was said in school, and this was my early part of school, was something that made me feel like because I was black I could never be or would never be.

So being black was considered to be more a weight...
I guess so. [laughs] This cat said in an article one time, it was funny: "Damn! He's black! He's blind! What else?!" I said, "Bull shit, I don't wanna hear that shit, you know."

So you wouldn't even bother having people describe things to you. Colors and...
Well, I have an idea of what colors are. I associate them with the ideas that've been told to me about those certain colors. I get a certain feeling in my head when a person says "red" or "blue," "green," "black," "white," "yellow," "orange," "purple" — purple is a crazy color to me....

Probably the sound of the word...
Yeah, yeah. To me, brown is a little duller than green, isn't it?

Yes, you got it...What about sex?
What about it? [laughs] It's the same thing, Jack! As a matter of fact it's probably even more exciting to the dude. Ask my woman what it's like.... No, no! [laughs] I mean you just have to get in there and do that shit, you know. That shit is just fantasticness!

I used to live on a street called Breckinridge. They just tore my house down. I wish I could've gotten a few pictures of it, too...but...

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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