Love this song and movie. Back in 2018 my son and I caught the movie in an Art House movie theatre that is located in Nashville. It was cool seeing this 1972 movie on the big screen. On top of a great movie, we got to hear the Curtis Mayfield soundtrack with surround sound in the theater.
Quinten Tarantino was strongly influenced by this movie for Jackie Brown. The endings are very similar. This song popularized the word “fly,” which means unusual and exceptional, particularly when it comes to fashion.
Curtis Mayfield was working on the songs for the movie while it was shooting, and would often visit the set, bringing in demos so the cast and crew could hear how they would integrate into the film. He even appears in the movie, performing the song “Pusherman” in a bar scene.
After seeing the screenplay, Mayfield jumped into the project and was given complete creative freedom. He wrote the songs to suit the scenes, but he made sure they could stand on their own, telling the stories even without the visuals. “Superfly” works very well outside of the film, as the character Mayfield describes could relate to anyone trying to survive and thrive under difficult situations.
The song peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100 and #5 in the R&B Charts in 1972.
Curtis Mayfield: “It was a glorious moment for our people as blacks, Priest had a mind, he wanted to get out. For once, in spite of what he was doing, he got away. So there came ‘Superfly’ the song. He was trying to get over. We couldn’t be so proud of him dealing coke or using coke, but at least the man had a mind and he wasn’t just some ugly dead something in the streets after it was all over. He got out.”
Darkest of night
With the moon shining bright
There’s a set goin’ strong
Lotta things goin’ on
The man of the hour
Has an air of great power
The dudes have envied him for so long
You’re gonna make your fortune by and by
But if you lose, don’t ask no questions why
The only game you know is Do or Die
Hard to understand
What a hell of a man
This cat of the slum
Had a mind, wasn’t dumb
But a weakness was shown
Cause his hustle was wrong
His mind was his own
But the man lived alone
The game he plays he plays for keeps
Hustlin’ times and ghetto streets
Tryin’ to get over
(That’s what he tryin’ to do, why’all)
Taking all that he can take
Gambling with the odds of fate
Tryin’ ta get over [Repeat: x4]
The aim of his role
Was to move a lot of blow
Ask him his dream
What does it mean?
He wouldn’t know
“Can’t be like the rest”
Is the most he’ll confess
But the time’s running out
And there’s no happiness
Superfly [Repeat: x4]
“Tryin’ to get over” [Repeat: x9]