Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Part Time Lover by Stevie Wonder

One of the reasons that I don't cheat on my wife, Diana, besides the whole "I love you her, I made a commitment to her as my wife and I would even want to be with another woman" is the fact that it would take too much effort. There's all the scheduling, erasing e-mails changing clothes, coming up with lies and having one more person to take care of.

I mean it's a lot of work.

Can you imagine doing this blind? Stevie Wonder, we know that you're a genius, an innovator of popular music and one of the most important and influence American musicians and song-writers. If you weren't blind you still would be admired for everything that you've accomplished but the fact that you did it all without the sense of sight makes me feel that much more inadequate. I mean it's bad enough that you're better at tennis than I am.

Okay, Stevie you really are a wonder, now you going to be all like "I'm such a genius that not only can I create amazing music but I can also successfully pull off an affair and have a 'part-time lover.' AND I can do it BLIND SUCKERS!!!"

"Part Time Lover" was one the biggest songs in 1985. It was the first song to be top four of Billboard charts at the same time: The Hot 100, R&B, Adult Contemporary and Dance. It may seem odd that song about cheating would be embraced so much by American culture. It's not so much a reflection of how much people accept cheating or participate in extra-martial affairs but this fun almost comical look at this subject in "Part Time Lover" is a way that we can deal with one of the most insidious, selfish and hurtful things someone can do.

In the first verse Stevie sings about using a one ring telephone call as a signal to let the other one know they made it safe at home. Then the next verse goes on to explain that he will flash the lights to let her know that this night he is free? So, the other person just happens to live across the way and will stay there and watch to see if the lights happen to flash? Wouldn’t the single ring phone call be a better signal?

Like early 1960s rocks songs about idealized teenage love, “Part Time Lover” is about the idealized situation of cheating on someone romanticizing about the plan and adventure of being undercover rather than the emotional consequences of betraying someone that you love. Now the song does have a twist in the end when someone comes to the door and Stevie realizes that his lover has a “part time lover.” He doesn’t seem overly distressed at this idea, it’s more of a “you get what you give” kind of response.

While many Motown artist floundered in the 1980s, Stevie Wonder transition with great success with the synthesized sounds of the time. Songs like “Part Time Lover” are great examples of the pop sensibility and musical reinvention that is characteristic of Stevie Wonder’s genius.

Stevie Wonder reflected American society. Like the way the songs he recorded in the late 1960s and early 1970s dealt with the Civil Rights movement, "Part Time Lover" is a response to peoples' questions about the dynamics of relationships in the 1980s. The one constant throughout all of his music is the sheer joy that expressed even with an issue like adultery.

Just look how happy he is to be grooving in a trench coat and hat in the video. He makes the idea of one of the most despicable and reprehensible actions seem like fun. Wow, this man really is a wonder.

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