At Michael Jackson’s public memorial on Tuesday, many may have expected Stevie Wonder to perform one of Michael Jackson’s — or his own — many global hits. But instead, Wonder opted for a medley of two of his lesser-known classics that are lyrically relevant to Jackson’s sudden passing earlier this month: 1971’s “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” and 1974’s “They Won’t Go When I Go.”
Before performing, Wonder addressed the crowd:
“This is a moment that I wished to never see come. But as much as I can say that, and mean it, I do know that God is good, and I don know that as much as we feel — and we do — that we need Michael here with us, God must have needed him far more. Michael, I love you and I told you that many times, so I’m at peace with that.”
“Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer,” from Wonder’s Where I’m Coming From album, was co-written with Wonder’s then-wife Syreeta Wright and uses the seasons to address a failed relationship. But on Tuesday, Wonder added his friend’s name to the lyric to alter the meaning: “Michael, why didn’t you stay?”
Wonder then segued into the angry, stately “They Won’t Go When I Go,” from 1974’s Fulfillingness’ First Finale, the lyrics of which could be interpreted to convey a message about Jackson’s death:
“No more lying friends, wanting tragic ends / Though they do pretend, they won’t go when I go/ All those bleeding hearts, with sorrows to impart/ Were right here from the start, and they won’t go when I go … When I go, where I’ll go/ No one can keep me from my destiny.”
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit “Michael Jackson Remembered.”
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