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Why Frank Ocean’s “Close To You” Nearly Brought Me To My Knees

Track 13 on Ocean's "Blond(e)" album is an interpolation of a classic Stevie Wonder live TV performance.
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Frank Ocean finally released his sophomore effort Blond(e) and it’s amazing. Although I’m still digesting the album like most, I can’t get over the euphoric feeling I experienced the first time I reached track 13.

While walking through the parking garage attached to the office where I spend my everyday 9 to 5, attempting to kill time as “Facebook Story” was about to conclude, I found myself baffled over the idea that a relationship could turn tumultuous based on the denial of a friend request from someone you know in real life. Without the slightest regard for my brief befuddlement, however, the album rolled on and into “Close To You.”

Sir Francis uttered seven syllables before my body was overwhelmed with familiarity — I’ve been here before!

I found myself singing along without even knowing the words. Listening, my knees felt weak. In fact, I thought they might even buckle.

Immediately I was reminded of a video that I keep on my phone for whenever I need a burst of joy in my life; footage of Stevie Wonder making a guest appearance on The David Frost Show in 1972 — two decades before my birth. The 21-year-old Wonder was only days removed from the release of “Music of My Mind” when he appeared on the show and performed a medley cover of “Close To You” and “Never Can Say Goodbye” with his newly-formed Wonderlove band.

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Stevie performed the medley using the same talk box that he employed on his then newly-released album, but the instrument wouldn’t become popularized until nearly a decade later when Roger Troutman burst onto the scene.

The performance was mesmerizing. After only seeing it once, I was hooked. My favorite portion of the performance has always been Stevie’s rendition of “Close To You.” By the time Stevie gets to “Never Can Say Goodbye,” I’m already bringing it back like a DJ who loves to remind you the artist shouted them out at the beginning of the track.

To bring this full circle, Ocean’s “Close To You” is an interpolation of Stevie’s version from The David Frost Show. If you’re wondering why Frank’s track is so short, it’s because Stevie’s rendition only lasts one minute.

But, man, what a minute.

***

By JustSayTez, a millennial that just discovered D'Angelo's Voodoo album. Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Instagram

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