An album that consistently brings me to tears is Talking Book
by Stevie Wonder.
I was fortunate enough to grow up near a classic independent record store, Village Music, where I purchased Talking Book
many years ago during one of my dreamy hours-long visits there.
When I got the album home, I stared and stared at its front. I absolutely love the cover of Talking Book
on it, Stevie is literally feeling the earth between his fingers, much like he does verbally on the record. He doesn't need to literally see it to understand what it is made of; with music, he captures both the grit and the softness that make up humanity.
Over the years my favorite track has changed bunches of times, but since college I have predominantly played side 2, skipping "Superstition," which kicks it off (killer track, just heard it enough times, plus its mood feels different from the rest of the side), and going straight from "Big Brother" to the end. The four songs that close side 2 of Talking Book
are definitely my favorite run of songs on any Stevie album.
Throughout this album, which Stevie largely wrote, produced and played all the instruments on, he touches on
unscrupulous politics and the possibility of everlasting love with salient clarity. He sheds light on the daily lives of those living in poverty, noting that the corrupt politicians in charge, not the poor, "will cause [their] own country to fall" (still quite apt these days). He also sings songs with overwhelming optimism regarding love despite past disappointment, both in himself and in others. The album captures an illuminating feeling of hope, a vibrant sense of anticipation.