Brucie? Wonderspring? I'm looking for a catchy McLennon-esque portmanteau nickname for what I can only describe as the 'Event' of Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder's duet in the 1985 charity song 'We Are The World'. But what single word could describe such a series of amazing sonic moments?
I don't really know much about Springsteen beyond wash blue jeans, beard scruff, Jon Stewart, and American flags. (Sorry!)I didn't even really know what he sounded like. When I heard this for the first time when I was little the only thing I remembered was MJ and the first two lines of the chorus 'We are the World, We are the Children' which when singing would dissolve into a mumbled incomprehensible mess. Stevie Wonder was of course a name known to me from early childhood. But initially I took no notice of the duet. But when I revisited the song a few years ago and heard the Stevie-Bruce part I couldn't help but think 'How inspired!'.
It's not just that they sound great.
10 years ago when I went to Ghana for the first time, I was staying with my cousins. They had a program on their computer that played the national anthems of almost every country in the world. We listened to God Save the Queen in relative silence, a few appreciative quips here and there, said in the same defensive way you might defend a brother you think is an idiot when someone else calls him an idiot because you're the only one allowed to cal him an idiot. When they played the Ghanaian national anthem (God Bless Our Homeland Ghana) however, my cousin looked like she had just had a really huge and delicious lunch. 'It's sweet' she said. She didn't mean sweet as in cute or twee. She meant sweet as in 'just right' as in harmonious, as in satisfying.
Sweet is the word that kept coming to mind as I was listening to Bruce and Stevie. It's the call and response, it's the juxtaposition of the keening saccharine voice of Stevie with the gravel of Springsteen that works so well. No other part of the video or recording lives me greater sonic or visual pleasure than that part. Not even Ray Charles just before or Randy Jackson getting his life just after. Maybe James Ingram. Maybe.