11. Smile Please
In the mean time Stevie was busy in the studio putting the finishing
touches on his next album, to be called Fulfillingness' First
Finale. Its an album that may not have had the raw edge as did its predecessor, but
taken song by song, Fulfillingness' is virtually unflawed, full of emotion without being maudlin. Its
lyrics range from the political to the spiritual to the romantic, its music from gentle to forceful to jive--a dazzlingly beautiful
and innovative collection. An album that truly showed Stevie writing what he felt deep inside - a gift not many can claim.
Fulfillingness' kicks off with the lovely and cheering
Smile Please, a song many claim to be the best opening track on any of Stevies
albums. The first track taken as a single was You Haven't Done Nothing featuring
the Jackson 5. A swipe at politicians and their do nothing attitude for the less fortunate that took Stevie to the top of both pop and
R&B charts. Boogie On Reggae Woman, the second single to be culled from the album was a sensual and
rythmic number that encouraged the listener to get up on their feet and get down. Stevie showed he was still in top form with the
ballads Creepin', Too Shy To Say and It Ain't No Use. His spiritual thoughts were revealed
without being preachy but subtley pointing to a higher being ,on the tracks, Heaven is Ten Zillion Light Years Away
and They Won't Go. The Brazilian flavoured Birds of Beauty
is an enlivening number both musically and mentally, in that it speaks of freeing the mind and body of harmful external influences.
The album ends with an emotional plea Please Don't Go that sees Stevie at his finest together with chorus belting out an
almost gospel flavoured appeal.
In November 1974 Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley proclaimed the 18th, Stevie Wonder Day for the city. A proclamation had been drawn up.
Representatives from the press and photographers had been invited to the Mayor's office. However Stevie was in New York unaware of the
ceremony at the mayor's office.
On the 22nd, Stevie finally arrived. Before he could make it to the Mayor's office, however, some seventy-five school children who were
touring City Hall caught wind of his presence and engulfed him.
The Mayor's ceremony was full of cliches, with the Mayor praising Steve's musical genius, versatility, concern for other people and
social problems, and ability to "transcend boundaries of race, age, and nationality."
Steve's last concert on the Fall Festival Tour was a benefit at Madison Square Garden. In addition to giving a performance which
brought raves from all who attended, Stevie donated $50,000 to seven New York charities. The show itself is legendary; the finale was
Superstition, with Sly Stone, Eddie Kendricks, and Roberta Flack singing along.
It was certainly a period during which Stevie had a lot to smile about.