Stevie Wonder is stumping for Hillary Clinton. On Friday night, the joyous musical genius played a GOTV (Get Out The Vote) concert for the Democratic candidate for 600 people packed into the Center City nightclub Coda.
Sunday the 66-year-old songwriter will be deployed in another electoral battleground state, appearing with President Obama - who awarded him the Medal of Freedom in 2014 - at a Clinton rally in Kissimmee, Florida, outside of Orlando.
After closing out his hit-heavy luminous-as-always performance with “Superstition” - read my review here - Wonder sat for a short interview backstage at Coda, talking politics, music, and at one point making a pro-Clinton argument by comparing himself to Donald Trump.
Question: How are you?
Answer: I’m good.
Q: That was wonderful.
A: Thank you.
Q: Why are you doing this?
A: My youngest child is one year old. She is a junior millennial. So I’m looking at the future. And I’ll give you a point of reference. As much as you have great love for me and you think I’m funny and la la la la la and I make you laugh and all that, if you had an emergency situation and needed to go to the hospital, and you had to get there right away, would you want me driving your car?
Q: No. You wouldn’t be on top of my list.
A: Exactly. Because I’m not an experienced driver, right? So my belief is that Hillary is an experienced person of the government, and she has spent 30 years with a commitment. Not to mention that her parents taught her in a kinder way, to have respect and love for all people. That’s the person I want to govern, to be the leader of this nation.
You have somebody saying I’m going to completely do away with [Obamacare]. Well, the reality is we’ve never had it in this country, and there are things that need to be fixed about it, and that’s great. But don’t throw the baby away with the bath water.
Q: What’s at stake for America, in your opinion?
A: I think, when I travel and I talk to people and they say, ‘How are you having someone who talks about people who are Muslims, or talks about Latinos, or talks about people’s looks?' I mean, c’mon! This is not a reality show. This is life in reality. So I’m with her because I believe in where we are, and where we are going to go. I have always believed that America is great. We’re just going to make it greater.
Q: What can music do to move people’s hearts and sway their opinions? And in particular, what can your music do?
A: I think my music can only do things when I’ve lived to be the best human being I can be. You know: That joy, that pain. And I’ve been blessed to have people that have shown me a lot of love, like your self or yourselves. People who are watching and listening. I’ve had people committed, and that’s been my inspiration. So we artists are moved, as musicians and songwriters and singers, we’re moved by our society, because basically art is just a reflection of society.
Q: What song of yours most speaks to the times in America today?
A: It’s a song that hasn’t come out yet actually, but it’s a song called “Where’s Our Love Song?” It’s a song that basically says: “Where’s our song of love? Not a song between you and me, but a love song for all humanity? Where’s our love song? I desperately need a song of love.”
Q: When will that come out?
A: In the next couple of months I believe. I want it to come out right now, but the truth of the matter is so much is going on, and I’ve been writing so many songs. It’ll be on the album Through The Eyes Of Wonder.
Q: And that is due when?
A: Before my birthday, which is May 13. Though actually it’s my son’s birthday, because he’s born the same day as me.
Q: I’ve been thinking of “Love’s In Need of Love Today” [from 1976’s Songs In The Key Of Life] a lot these days.
A: It’s unfortunate that the song is still relevant today. I mean, it’s good for me getting the residuals and all that stuff. But I would prefer not having residuals and the world being in a place where the world has love. But yeah, “Love’s In Need Of Love Today” is a song I would choose.
Q: For people who don’t see it your way, or aren’t moved to vote, what is it about Clinton that moves you?
A: I’m moved by her sensitivity. ... You gotta think that sometimes the world has broken her heart. And yet she’s still committed. She’s still fighting for women’s rights, for women’s equal pay, for people of all ethnicities ... We say this is the land of the free, the home of the brave, and now there’s all of this talk about building a wall? .... I think it takes a place of positivity in the spirit. So I’m really for the person who is optimistic, not pessimistic.
Q: And that’s what you try to convey in your music?
A: Yeah. It’s what I believe. And I would hate to have the last years of my life in a place of pessimism. I want my children to know that we’ve been these places before but we can rise above them and be a greater country.
I mean I just heard tonight about a church that was burned in Mississippi. What kind of stuff is that? What is that about? It just makes me think how stupid some people are. That’s all I can say. And then these are some of the same people who will say that they love God. I’m sorry, but how can you love God and do what you do?
Q: You must feel motivated. You’re out here working hard.
A: You know, I’m a believer. So it’s not work. I’ve always had this prayer I say to God: ‘Use me in any way I can be used to make the world better.’ I don’t hear her opponent talking about bringing art back to school. I don’t hear him talking about making the world more accessible for people with disabilities ... I don’t hear positivity. It’s about positivity. We have nowhere else to go but here on this planet. Where else can we go?
Q: So we have to fix it here?
A: Exactly. The saying, even though it’s an old saying, goes United We Stand, Divided We Fall. It’s that simple.
Previously: Music Picks
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