Summary of the Song
The song Living for the City by Stevie Wonder was released in 1973 as part of his Innervisions album. It is classified as an R&B/Soul song illuminating a plight of a young man born in Mississippi with high hopes of changing his life. The song illustrates a plight of a young black man born in a household of five (his father, mother, sister, brother, and himself) all of whom suffer from years of discrimination, hard work, and low wages. In this course, the young man is determined to escape the ordeal in which he was born and seeks to change his life by moving to New York City. He arrives in New York City by bus where he continues to experience extensive discrimination looking for a job as a way to sustain his desires and future aspirations. However, the young man is set up for a crime that prompts his arrest, conviction and sentenced to ten years in prison.
History of the Song
Stevie Wonder through the lyrics seeks to enlighten the plight of the black populace, what they endure, and the odds they have to overcome to escape the menace they are born into in the society. From parents who provided extensive love and affection, they worked hard for fourteen hours a day only to barely make a dollar. The lyrics describe a sister who is constantly threatened by the realities of life despite her determination and zeal to be a better person. Similarly, his brother who is smart and patient is bound to lose patience as a result of the realities they endure in life. As well, the young man’s determination to move into a new city is cut short when he is framed for a crime he was no part of and sentenced to serve time in prison. The time served in prison and being black are aspects fundamental to changing one’s life course forever. Therefore, the lyrics illustrate a lifelong challenge that the black folks are bound to suffer from parents to children undermining the future they desire.
Thoughts/Reflection on the Song
The song presents a theme of racial discrimination that black folks in America are subjected to in their lives. From hard work and low wages, lack of employment, mass incarceration, and racism – the black folk is bound to face substantial challenges in life. The movement advocated for in the song seeks to illuminate the realities that black people go through and the need for improvement in the social dynamics of society. An individual lacks the ability to control where one is born into and, therefore, should not have to endure lifelong suffering. Fairness and equality are salient features that American society should tolerate and embrace. The tenets are bound to shape the society for fair social cohesion and looking after one another. Thus, it is paramount that racial discrimination in society is subdued and eliminated to advance the fairness and equality of all people.