John Legend | Legendary Talent

This song—it brought tears to my eyes as the piano set the tone and the lyrics etched themselves into my brain.

 

 

 

“I hang up, you call / We rise and we fall and we both still have room left to grow / As our love advances we take second chances / Though it’s not a fantasy I still want you to stay…” he crooned throughout the picturesque show of emotions in the video for “Ordinary People.”

This was my first encounter with John Legend. I watched the video in sheer awe of the situations and the lone piano accompaniment (until the bridge). His sultry voice fell over the melody ever so softly and I was intrigued. When his album Get Lifted was released I wasn’t sold enough to buy it, but from what I heard I liked it. The authenticity of “So High” had my interest thoroughly piqued and I knew I should be watching out for Legend in the near future. My freshman year of college, I really got into his style and his lyrical play.

Once Again was a phenomenal album that told the story of a turbulent back and forth relationship.  My favorite tracks were “Again” and its follow-up “Another Again.” The former catapulted Legend right into the realm of my brown suga artists. His vocal performance alone was mind-blowing. Any listener could hear the depth and the struggle of emotions as he belted. My ears, my ears, they cried out for him because I could feel his pain as he sang, “Damn I love you, but this is crazy / I have to fight you, almost daily / We break up so fast and we, we make up so passionately / Why can’t we just trust each other? / You can’t hate me and be my lover / Passion ends and the pain begins, I come back and we’re doing it again.”

 Maybe it was the way Legend described the repetition of this relationship that forced me to go along the tumultuous journey with him, or maybe it was the way his lyrics reminded me of a friend I knew who kept doing it again too. I’m not sure which one it was, but it was a legendary feeling. He had begun to affect me in ways only old-school artists like Otis Redding and Gladys Knight and the Pips had.

His third album, Evolver, was just the right amount of everything. There was a different John Legend on this album. He was celebrating single life, freedom, and the ability to love boundlessly. “Green Light” with Andre 3000 from Outkast sent electric vibes through my limbs. As I danced to the beat I thought, “this is going to be an electrifying album,” and it was. “Now what do you keep calling for? It’s over.” I’m sure these are phrases we have all said or at least thought a few times. I was so accustomed to Legend being a ballad singer that I didn’t expect him to have such groovy vocals on my favorite upbeat tune, “It’s Over.” Kanye West contributed a smart-ass verse that only added fuel to the fire.

Just when I thought I had strayed away from my ballad-loving ways in giving Legend brown suga status, I stumbled upon what I believe is one of his best ballads to date, “This Time.” This song—it brought tears to my eyes. As the piano set the tone and the lyrics etched themselves into my brain, I could vividly see that guy coming back and saying these exact words to me: “This time I want it all / I’m showing you all the cards, giving you all my heart / This time I’ll take the chance, this time I’ll be your man / I can be all you need, this time it’s all of me.” Legend continued to the heart-aching anxiety of the bridge; “Last time I wasn’t sure. This time I will give you more. I’m more mature, I’ll show you. / Last time I didn’t know I messed up when I let you go. I need you, don’t say no.” It always amazes me how people (in this case men) always feel worthy of a “this time.” What if the first time was all you get, no second chances? I’m not sure if Legend ever found his resolve, but to the others I suggest you cherish and treat your loves great the first time around. Give the relationship 100% so you won’t have to beg for another chance—or wonder about what could have been if you’re not granted one.

Wake Up!, Legend’s fourth release with The Roots, is an album of cover songs about change and understanding the human journey. It was very culturally aware and thought provoking. I loved the feel of this album—very inspired by the aura of change during ‘60s and ‘70s, as illustrated by the album’s track listing featuring songs from Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. With this album, I realized that for Legend music was more than just a means of providing a wonderful lifestyle for himself. No, music was a way to connect people and urge us to welcome and accept new things as they happen around us.

For your calming, old-soul voice and your gift to move, sway, and wrap us into your life’s journey through melodies and lyrics; for the way you help us to find common ground with one another no matter our differences, this John Legend, earns you the status of brown suga.

XOXO,

A.

 I’ve shared my love affair now I want you to share yours. Email me at intern@playbackstl.com and tell me your story of how you fell in love with music.

 

 

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