♫ Happy Birthday ♫

Folks, I have been taken to task and even threatened with a big stick for missing the 69th birthday of one of my most favourite musicians, Stevie Wonder.  I’m sure you’ll never guess who it was that called me on the carpet for my perfidy and oversight, right?  😉

Today, we are all well aware that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in January each year.  But, it wasn’t always so.  Some of my younger readers may not realize that MLK Day was only officially designated as a national holiday in 1983, only 36 years ago, when President Ronald Reagan signed it into law.  Jimmy Carter tried and failed to get congressional approval in 1979, and that is when Stevie Wonder took up the mantle.  He wrote, produced and sang Happy Birthday in 1981 as a tribute to Dr. King, and in an effort to stir national interest in creating a national holiday to honour him.

Stevie Wonder had a huge role in getting Martin Luther King day recognized as a national holiday in the U.S. He helped organize a rally in Washington on January 15, 1981 (King’s birthday), that was a key event in the movement. With the crowd chanting, “Martin Luther King Day, we took a holiday,” black leaders and celebrities appeared, and when Wonder spoke, he said:

“As an artist, my purpose is to communicate the message that can better improve the lives of all of us. I’d like to ask all of you just for one moment, if you will, to be silent and just to think and hear in your mind the voice of our Dr. Martin Luther King.”

A highlight of the rally was Wonder’s performance of this song, and over the next few years, Wonder continued his work to raise awareness of the movement and apply political pressure to get the holiday recognized. Another rally followed the next year, and on November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill. The holiday was first observed in 1986, but it took many more years before every state made it a full holiday complete with a paid day off for state workers. South Carolina was the last to do so, joining the other 49 states in 2000.

The first official Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, held the third Monday in January of each year, was held on January 20, 1986, and was commemorated with a large-scale concert, where Stevie Wonder was the headlining performer.  This song was never released as a single in the U.S., but was featured on Wonder’s album, Hotter Than July, and the song charted at #2 in the UK.  In fact, Wonder also performed this song at the Diamond Jubilee Concert in London for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.  He also performed it at Nelson Mandela Day at Radio City Music Hall on July 19, 2009.

Am I off the hook now, Ellen?  I still say you could give me some advance warning about these dates, for you know I cannot remember anything!  🙃

And now, I give you Mr. Stevie Wonder …

Happy Birthday
Stevie Wonder

You know it doesn’t make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration cause we all know in our minds

That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you

And I’m sure you would agree
It couldn’t fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition

Because it should never be
Just because some cannot see
The dream as clear as he
That they should make it become an illusion

And we all know everything
That he stood for time will bring
For in peace our hearts will sing
Thanks to Martin Luther King

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Why has there never been a holiday
Where peace is celebrated
All throughout the world

The time is overdue
For people like me and you
Who know the way to truth
Is love and unity to all gods children

It should never be a great event
And the whole day should be spent
In full remembrance
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people

So let us all begin
We know that love can win
Let it out don’t hold it in
Sing it loud as you can

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
Ooh yeah

Happy Birthday…
We know the key to unify all people
Is in the dream that you had so long ago
That lives in all of the hearts of people

That believe in unity
Well make the dream become a reality
I know we will
Because our hearts tell us so

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday…

Songwriters: WONDER STEVIE
Happy Birthday lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music Scandinavia AB, Black Bull Music, Fox Film Music Corporation, Agelong Music Publishing Inc., JOBETE MUSIC CO INC, BLACK BULL MUSIC INC, JOBETE MUSIC CO., INC., WB MUSIC CORP. O/B/O INC. SUMMY BIRCHARD, INC.

20 thoughts on “♫ Happy Birthday ♫

  1. Pingback: The Blog of Many Colours | Times and Tides of a Beachwriter

  2. Now Jill, I could take offense at being described as one threatening another with physical violence. Be assured that by saying “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”, neither Theodore nor I intended to actually swing that stick, but merely to have it as a symbol of our strength should peaceful means fail. Peaceful means prevailed, a show of strength became unnecessary. The gracious thing would be to simply thank you and depart, as my mission was peacefully accomplished as intended. But that is, somewhat sorrowfully, not going to happen again today. You see, 21 years ago today the world lost Frank Sinatra. While I do not recall any song by him ever appearing on any of your music posts for whatever reason, I feel that this honor to him is long overdue. Almost from the moment of my birth I grew up hearing Frank’s voice and oft times saw my parents dancing to that voice as well. My Father loved him. “Songs by Sinatra” was released even before I was and was played so often that a 1950 re-issue had to replace the original. Another favorite album was “In the Wee Small Hours” and the collection of his albums continued for years. A fitting tribute to the complicated yet merry leader of the “Rat Pack” is undoubtedly the March 1969 “My Way” from the eponymous album. Paul Anka heard a French pop song and obtained the rights to it, then spent 4 early morning hours writing the song for Sinatra. It became Sinatra’s signature song, although Anka also released his own version that same year and it is the later Elvis version that most prefer. I must add a note that you have outdone yourself with this post honoring Stevie Wonder’s birthday and it would also do just as nicely for the next Martin Luther King Day as well. Thank-you!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your comments always bring a smile to my face, my friend! And I knew you wouldn’t really use that big stick, but I simply had to play it for all it was worth, right? That said …

      Good Grief, woman!!!! You have me chasing my tail! First you hint (quite a strong hint, actually) that I could make up for missing Stevie’s birthday by celebrating it a day late, and then you chastise me for missing the anniversary of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ death. But alas … I am up for the challenge and … well, stay tuned …

      Like

  3. Jill, I am reading a fascinating biography on Paul Simon. He speaks highly of Stevie Wonder as a songwriter and producer of music. Per Simon, Wonder has been around the mixing of music since early in his career and knows how to make well written music sound better by adding other instruments and styles. Simon worked behind the scenes before hitting it big and learned the ropes as well. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • That sounds like a fascinating book! I shall check it out. It amazes me that Stevie Wonder is so accomplished even though he has been blind since birth. But, one of my readers, Scott (Sklawlor) is very musically talented and has been blind since birth. Perhaps it is true, then, that if you are deprived of one of the senses, the others are more astute?

      Like

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