Stevie Wonder - I Don't Know Why, For Once In My Life

Wow -- the difference in quality in writing and composition between these two songs is pretty staggering, but Stevie absolutely was learning as he went.  The return of Diana Ross in this one, for those who were wondering what was about to happen after that last clip a few days ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlHf-v2DgOk

It's pretty striking how many jokes fell absolutely flat -- the comedy writing for this show was rather poor, and the audience sounds somewhat canned and respectful.  I know that when I'm on stage (especially if there's somebody wearing sequins), I love a raucous and enthusiastic crowd!  The philosophy of returning stagecraft in music to the event of the night (a la Rat Pack) is something I'll probably rant about many times in the future.

At 3:49, during For Once In My Life, check out how the saxophones are playing the flute/piccolo parts from the original recording -- at the time, the stage musicians were reading from the original orchestration (listen to the more-amateur choir!) and didn't have the instruments or the facility to play these woodwind parts on the flute.  Not to disparage at all, just thinking about the resources available and how the same composition/arrangement could be deployed in multiple different environments with great success in all.

What a grand performance.  Stevie is incredible.

Update: Best moment is 3:54-3:56.  Diana points to herself, and is kinda a ham, but still very entertaining.  There are some stiff jokes in here that were written for Stevie as being full of himself, but don't actually match his personality.  She's an experienced stagecrafter, who is constantly interesting and engaging, even when her stage presence is meant to be secondary.  It's also worth remembering that Berry Gordy originally hated the hip and uptempo version of "Once In My Life," refusing to agree to its publication.

Stevie Wonder is young, talented, enthusiastic, and completely unaware of any stage drama.  He's blissfully clueless.  Diana Ross, on the other hand is a fantastically seasoned performer: sexy, talented, and aware of how to best handle the situation.  She wins the night, while Stevie will laugh about it later, slightly embarrassed at his younger self.