Friday, September 4, 2009

Stevie Wonder : I Wish


WRITTEN BY Stevie Wonder

PERFORMED BY Stevie Wonder
APPEARS ON Songs In The Key Of Life (1976)

I have a really good friend that has walked through some rough times with me over the last few years. In terms of education and career she's a very successful person but every now and then when the grind gets too hectic and the personal life doesn't always match the professional success. That's when she will call me up and ask the question "Don't you wish you could go back to being ten years old again?" Then she will go into a fifteen minute story about playing double dutch with her sisters or something like that. I just listen because I know what she is trying to do. Last night I was watching a football game and trying to get myself to a point of relaxation. I looked at that game and thought about when I was a little boy every week during football season me and my dad would have a contest picking the winners of the NFL games. He would always let me pick first and I would still lose because I refused to pick any teams that I didn't like. I remember when our family vehicle was a blue Dodge pickup and every day after school we would ride to pick up my mom. I and my brothers and sisters would sit on this white tool box that went across the back of it. It used to feel like we were sitting so high we could look down at everything in the world. It was like riding on an amusement park ride every day and it was always fun even when the truck broke down. That's why when I am having a rough day and need to get my mind in the right place I drive home on Galvez St. just to get the memory of that raggedy truck heading down to the Ninth Ward. If my daughter was big enough to drive now I would let her so I could sit in the back of my truck and look down at everything in the world.

We live in a society that is focused on progression and moving forward. There is nothing wrong with that but sometimes we lose sight of the things that built the foundation to give us the drive to get up every day and do what we do. Stevie Wonder recorded a song that speaks to days like this called I Wish from the Songs in the Key of Life album. It hasn't been that long since I covered another song and discuss the greatness of this album. I wasn't planning on doing this one now but it fits my current state of mind and kind of popped into my head. Even though it was recorded in 1976, it still speaks clearly to my experiences growing up. I am 35 now and my generation was probably the last kids that had a great childhood. At least that's what I like to think. Kids today have the Internet, and video games that let them play with their friends without even getting off the sofa. When I was a kid and the weather was good you had to go outside.Our mom's would make us go. These days kids can tell their parents what they want for Christmas and know its coming. I'm from the old school when you got what they could afford.

Even without a lot of money growing up on the avenue was a pretty carefree time. All we did was play ball, shoot marbles, make skate mobiles and watch wrestling on Saturday. I have come to realize now my parents were struggling sometimes to make ends meet but that was never my burden as a kid and it shouldn't be. We just had fun. Even with the fun growing up in the inner city isn't a fairytale. There is no such thing as a guarantee you won't come across a few kids that don't have the same home situation as you. Back then it really didn't matter. Everybody just grew up together. There was one or two little boys that your mama forbids you to play with because she knew their people were trouble. There were lot of days spent getting in trouble for this. I don't know if Stevie ever really went through this but his description of it was perfect.

sneaking out the back door
To hang out with those hoodlum friends of mine
Greeted at the back door
With boy thought I told you not to go outside,
Trying your best to bring the
Water to your eyes
Thinking it might stop her
From woopin your behind

Life moves fast and before you know it there are careers to develop, kids to raise, bills to pay, older loved ones to take care of, falling in love as well as heartbreak to endure. In the natural progression of things you can't really avoid most of these moments. I think what Stevie was trying to say in this song is that it is alright to look back and reminisce every now and then. It helps balance some of the stress of the present. Hopefully when my children get older and the responsibilities of adulthood get heavy they will have enough memories to help get them through it. Maybe 20 years from now someone will be listening to this song or one like it and remember all the fun things they did in their childhood. That's the thought that keeps me going when I want throw my hand in.


Looking back on when I
Was a little nappy headed boy
Then my only worry
Was for Christmas what would be my toy
Even though we sometimes
Would not get a thing
We were happy with the
Joy the day would bring

Sneaking out the back door
To hang out with those hoodlum friends of mine
Greeted at the back door
With boy thought I told you not to go outside
Tryin' your best to bring the
Water to your eyes
Thinkin' it might stop her
Grom woopin' your behind

I wish those days could come back once more
Why did those days ev-er have to go
I wish those days could come back once more
Why did those days ev-er have to go
Cause I love them so

Brother says he's tellin'
'Bout you playin' doctor with that girl
Just don't tell I'll give you
Anything you want in this whole wide world
Mama gives you money for Sunday school
You trade yours for candy after church is through

Smokin' cigarettes and writing something nasty on the wall (you nasty boy)
Teacher sends you to the principal's office down the wall
You grow up and learn that kinda thing ain't right
But while you were doin'it-it sure felt outta sight

I wish those days could come back once more
Why did those days ev-er have to go
I wish those days could come back once more
Why did those days ev-er have to go


  1. That is a fine piece of writing Clifton, I enjoyed it very much indeed. (I also enjoyed the music as well - an added bonus).

  2. I had to download Songs in the Key of Life after reading this!

    I thought about this entry earlier today while eating a slice of homemade bread. It took me right back to childhood and my mother's bread. It's wonderful how we keep memories locked away, only needing the right key to open them. Songs like "I Wish" help us locate those keys.

  3. Very fine writing indeed...I enjoyed always....