Pop & Hiss

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Michael Jackson memorial: Stevie Wonder sings 'Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer'*

July 7, 2009 | 11:36 am


Pop & Hiss brings you quick thoughts on some of the main performances at today's Michael Jackson memorial.

What: Stevie Wonder's "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer." A Michael Jackson collaborator, Wonder gave a brief introduction to his 1971 song and held the crowd captivated from the moment he began speaking. Wonder noted that Jackson had covered the song himself, and Michael handled his version "so incredibly," said Wonder.

Powers writes from inside the Staples Center that this is "the most personal-feeling tribute yet." "I never dreamed you'd leave in summer," Wonder sang, alone at his piano, and drifted into "They Won't Go When I Go," extending the performance into a nearly 10-minute one.

If it would have continued, no one would have complained, as Wonder looked as if he had knocked Staples Center still. Wonder shouted the refrain of the song, letting his voice crack, calling Michael's name. "A friend to a friend," Powers wrote, "a moment of modestly stated but real grief."

— Ann Powers and Todd Martens

Photo: Singer Stevie Wonder, right, arrives on stage to perform at pop star Michael Jackson's memorial service at the Staples Center. Credit: Paul Buck / EPA

*Commenters have suggested that Wonder was not referring to "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" when he said Jackson covered the song, and was instead making a reference to "I Can't Help It" from Jackson's "Off the Wall," a song Wonder co-wrote.