18. Freedom Is Coming
On May 13th,
his 35th birthday, he appeared at the United Nations where he was
commended for his work against apartheid and discrimination. He
addressed the audience in both song and speech.
September, Stevie's album,
In Square Circle
was finally ready. The concept was one of dovetailing the themes of
love and spirituality fully explained in the albums booklet that
Stevie co-wrote with Theresa Cropper. As Stevie explains about the
characters in the essay, 'Their hearts minds were recalling the
cycles of love while their minds were exploring the square root of
the universe.' The essay goes on to explain the meaning of each song
in the context of the overall story.
Part-time Lover the first single kicks off this
set. It take the catchiest, danceable beat you can think of and
mixes it with a great story about cheating, a cool yet eerie
synthesizer line and a great doo wop riff from a guy named Luther
Vandross and what do you get? Another number one hit. This is
definitely lite Stevie but the song is too catchy not to love. Being
Stevie though, he ends it with a lesson: The person who was doing
the cheating throughout the song finds that their lover was cheating
on them too! On
I Love You Too Much,
Stevie's keyboard playing is still great and it's the main show in
this yet another layered work.
is not the classic Stevie ballad but it does tend to grow on you
Stranger On The Shore Of Love
speaks of taking love for granted and eventually losing it. Not one
of his most memorable melodies.
Never In Your Sun
is a sweet song about bringing happiness to people when they're
down. Great vocals and a good harmonica solo helps lift the song to
sings about us hiding from preachers when they knock on our doors or
approach us on the streets, put to an up-tempo dance beat.
Land Of La La
does have a driving beat, but fails to live up to the standard set
by tracks like
Living For The City.
is jazzy, funky and cool all at once great horn riffs weave in and
out of an even funkier bass line. The song is about a person in love
with someone and who is willing to do anything for that person. Yet
the person pushes them away. Of course at the end, Stevie being
Stevie, that person realizes that they need the other but it's too
one of Stevie's classic ballads was an ok hit when originally
released but has become one of his most requested and respected
songs in his repertoire. The song was written while he was doing
Secret Life Of
Plants but it
didn't fit in with the rest of the album. Well it fits in perfectly
here. The rhythm section is the sounds of water, birds chirping and
pebbles dropping. Stevie's strings (yes, he does write his string
parts. Mr. Riser just orchestrates them for him) are beautiful and
very tricky at the climax of the song.
Apartheid (It's Wrong)
a message song condemning the then still existing regime of
apartheid in South Africa closes off the album. It is the best
anti-apartheid song written and one of the best political songs of
his career. He uses African vocalist singing in their native
language as background vocals. The rhythm is literally crazy and
hypnotic using African instruments. The last words are shouted/sung,
"Freedom is coming...hold on tight!" Just wonderful.
Stevie was also linked to the UK stage
extravaganza, Time. He did one song with Cliff Richards, playing all
the instruments, a song that made the top twenty in the UK.
In January 1986 Americans celebrated the first
ever observance of Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday.
Concerts were organised in major cities and some televised. One of
the televised events featured Stevie, Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross,
Quincy Jones and Eddie Murphy.
in the year Stevie teamed up with Dionne Warwick, Elton John and
Gladys Knight to record a song for AIDS charity.
That's What Friends
Are For topped the US charts and won a grammy for Best Pop
Performance By A Duo or Group category.