Sly and the Family Stone – Family Affair

“Family Affair,” was on the album There’s A Riot Goin’ On and the last Sly & The Family Stone song to hit #1.

The song’s rhythm was provided by a drum machine, making it one of the earliest hit recordings and the first #1 single to use such a device. The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, #15 in the UK, and #11 in New Zealand.

Sly did not use the Family Stone for this recording. His friend Billy Preston played the keyboard lines in the song with Sly also playing keyboard as well as guitar, bass, and programming the rhythm box. His sister Rose sang with him and Bobby Womack played rhythm guitar.

From Songfacts

According to Dave Marsh’s book 1001 Greatest Songs, Sly Stone’s manager told Rolling Stone that Family Affair was the story of Sly’s own life, which was being cut up by the factions that surrounded him in his stardom. Chief among those factions, David Kapralik hinted, was Sly’s own family. Sly denied this. He told Rolling Stone, “Song’s not about that. Song’s about a family affair, whether it’s a result of genetic processes or a situation in the environment.” There was a rumor at the time that Stone had written it in response to demands made on him by black nationalist groups, who didn’t approve of his integrationist sensibility.

According to the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs, when There’s A Riot Goin’ On came out in 1971, a reporter mentioned the rumor that Sly Stone had played all the instruments himself, and he asked Sly just how much he played. “I’ve forgotten, man,” Stone said. “Whatever was left.” 

Family Affair

It’s a family affair, it’s a family affair
It’s a family affair, it’s a family affair

One child grows up to be
Somebody that just loves to learn
And another child grows up to be
Somebody you’d just love to burn

Mom loves the both of them
You see it’s in the blood
Both kids are good to Mom
“Blood’s thicker than mud”

It’s a family affair, it’s a family affair
Newlywed a year ago
But you’re still checking each other out
Nobody wants to blow

Nobody wants to be left out
You can’t leave, ’cause your heart is there
But you can’t stay, ’cause you been somewhere else!

You can’t cry, ’cause you’ll look broke down
But you’re cryin’ anyway ’cause you’re all broke down!

It’s a family affair
It’s a family affair

Sly & The Family Stone – Everybody Is A Star

I’ve always liked Sly Stone’s music…most of the radio hits were positive like this one and Everyday People. He was huge during his heyday but has been neglected since.

This was released as a double-A-side single with “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” The single peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100 in 1970, the chart position is attributed to both songs combined.

All together Sly Stone put 17 songs in the Billboard 100, 5 top 10 hits and 3 number 1 songs all between 1968 and 1975.

From Songfacts

This song is about how everyone is equal and how people try to change themselves to be what the media wants them to be. For black individuals, it can be about how we try to change ourselves to “act white” but in the end the system brings us down, yet we bring ourselves back up with the help of our people. 

Like many Sly & the Family Stone songs of this era – “Everyday People” and “Stand!” among them – “Everybody Is A Star” has a message of togetherness and self-worth. These songs were set against joyful melodies that kept them from sounding preachy. They went over very well at live shows where a sense of community formed.

The nonsense chorus (“ba pa-pa-pa ba…”) actually makes a lot of sense – it’s about the power of music, which can speak without words. In this case, the rhythmic syllables play against horn lines in a very similar fashion to Otis Redding’s 1966 track “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song).”

Everybody Is A Star

Everybody is a star
Who the rain, chase the dust away
Everybody wants to shine
Ooh, come out on a cloudy day
‘Til the sun that loves you proud
When the system tries to bring you down
Every hand to shine tonight
You don’t need darkness to do what you think is right, hee hee

Ba pa-pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba,
Ba-pa ba-pa ba ba, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
Ba pa-pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba,
Ba-pa ba-pa ba ba, ooh, ooh,

Everybody is a star
I can feel it when you shine on me
I love you for who you are
Not the one you feel you need to be
Ever catch a falling star
Ain’t no stopping ’til it’s in the ground
Everybody is a star
One big circle going round and round

Ba pa-pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba,
Ba-pa ba-pa ba ba, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

Ba pa-pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba,
Ba-pa ba-pa ba ba, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

Ba pa-pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba,
Ba-pa ba-pa ba ba, shine, shine, shine, shine

Ba pa-pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba,
Ba-pa ba-pa ba ba, shine, shine, shine, shine

Ba pa-pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba,
Ba-pa ba-pa ba ba, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

Ba pa-pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba pa-pa ba ba ba,
Ba-pa ba-pa ba ba, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

Sly and the Family Stone – Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

I hope all of you have a great New Year…

Sly and the Family Stone were huge during their heyday but have been neglected since. This song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100 in 1970. Sly to me, was somewhat of a musical genius until drugs started to affect him. The lyrics include references to some of Sly & the Family Stone’s earlier hits, including “Dance To The Music” and “Everyday People.

From Songfacts.

Sly Stone wrote this because he was upset that people were not listening to the messages in his songs even though the band was more popular then ever. They were an integrated band and tried to spread the message of racial harmony, but Stone thought that message was getting lost. The lyrics are scathing and mostly directed at Sly himself, but once again, many people lost the message in the powerful groove.

Larry Graham played the innovative bass line using a technique where thumped the strings. He learned this technique when he was playing in a duo with his mother, who played the organ. He thumped the strings to make up for a lack of drummer. This bass style became very popular on funk records for years to come, and was a big influence on artists like Prince and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The title is a funky way of spelling “Thank you for letting me be myself again.”

Janet Jackson sampled the bass riff from this on her 1990 hit “Rhythm Nation.” >>

In 2008, Brooke Hogan, who is the daughter of wrestling star Hulk Hogan, released a version of this song called “Thnku4lettinmebmahself,” where she sings about the trappings of fame. Her cover, which strips all Funk from the original, was released ahead of her second album.

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

Lookin’ at the devil, grinnin’ at his gun
Fingers start shakin’, I begin to run
Bullets start chasin’, I begin to stop
We begin to wrestle I was on the top

I want to thank you falettinme be mice elf agin
Thank you falettinme be mice elf agin

Stiff all in the collar, fluffy in the face
Chit chat chatter tryin’, stuffy in the place
Thank you for the party but I could never stay
Many things is on my mind, words in the way

I want to thank you falettinme be mice elf agin
Thank you falettinme be mice elf agin

Dance to the music
All night long
Everyday people
Sing a simple song
Mama’s so happy
Mama start to cry
Papa still singin’
We can make it if we try

I want to thank you falettinme be mice elf agin
Thank you falettinme be mice elf agin

Flamin’ eyes of people fear, burnin’ into you
Many men are missin’ much, hatin’ what they do
Youth and truth are makin’ love
Dig it for a starter
Dyin’ young is hard to take
Sellin’ out is harder

Thank you falettinme be mice elf agin
I want to thank you falettinme be mice elf agin
Thank you falettinme be mice elf agin
Thank you falettinme be mice elf agin
I want thank you falettinme be mice elf agin
I want to thank you falettinme be mice elf agin
I want to thank you falettinme be mice elf agin
I want to thank you falettinme be mice elf agin