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18. Freedom Is Coming

On May 13th, his 35th birthday, he appeared at the United Nations where he was commended for his work againstStevie Wonder & Nelson Mandela apartheid and discrimination. He addressed the audience in both song and speech.

By 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. Whereabouts is not the classic Stevie ballad but it does tend to grow on you with time. 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 another level.

Stevie WonderIn Spiritual Walkers Stevie 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. Go Home 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 late.

Overjoyed 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 Wonder and Coretta Scott King
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.

Later 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.