Oprah: How did "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" come to you?
Stevie: Same way. The feeling of the melody is happy, because when I wrote it I was in New York in late spring, early summer. Good things were happening. When I first came up with "I Wish," it was going to be about some kind of crazy philosophical stuff, but that didn't work with the song. So after a Motown picnic, we came back to the studio, and we were all sitting around the piano. We started talking about the different experiences we had growing up, like when I got a whipping for playing doctor with a girl.
Oprah: And that's in the song. I love "I Wish." It reminds me of that era: "Looking back on when I was a little nappy-headed boy."
Oprah: How do you define yourself as a musician?
Stevie: I'm a lover of music, constantly curious about the sounds I hear. I'm always thinking about how I can take my music to the next level. It isn't about selling millions of CDs or making millions of dollars. God has given me an incredible gift—the gift of music—and it's a blessing that's self-contained. I can go anywhere in the world with absolutely nothing and I can still find a keyboard and play. No matter what, no one can take that away from me. Even if I was a slave or Blind Tom, and every instrument was taken away, I could still imagine music and hear chords in my head. As incredible as that is, God has also given me a yearning to do more. I'm playing blues now, and I want to do gospel. I lived through an earthquake once, and it made me realize that I have to do the best I can in life. I always just want to do better. I have to love and share like there's no tomorrow. Another thing I've learned recently is that I cannot play God. I cannot solve everyone's problems.
Oprah: I got that one a while back.
Stevie: You can love, but at some point you must say, "Hey, you've got to do this one by yourself."
Oprah: That's why we're here—to figure those things out for ourselves. How do you define yourself as a man?
Stevie: I'm not a normal man—never have been. The more I accept that, the better I feel. I'm a work in progress, but if I know in my heart that I'm doing my best, that my heart's in the right place, that I have unconditional love, I feel okay. That isn't to say that I haven't made mistakes.
We Hear You!