Sly and The Family Stone - You Haven't Heard it All
By Jen Kehl on March 01, 2014
Everybody is a Star
The best thing that could have ever happened to me and Sly was the release of the new box set - Sly and the Family Stone, Higher!
Growing up in the 70's I was spoon fed Sly. I wasn't living in San Francisco, and even if I was, I am pretty sure they wouldn't have let a 4-year-old in his shows. So how could I possibly know?! HOW!
The truth is, I really didn't become acquainted with Sly that much until I was a, let's say, "free-thinking" college student looking for the funk. But even then it was just the freaking tip of the iceberg. And when you spend a lot of time with the tip of the iceberg, it starts to get old. And boring. And gray.
Ah, so how is it, that 40 years after Sly's genius was being recognized I am only seeing it now? Because, this is one of those rare instances where the record industry did see it. Those record puppeteers pretty much gave Sly free rein. That is how you KNOW he was a genius. Sure, they gave him so input, and he gladly took it. He was not at all adverse to "dumbing it down" to get in the door.
But the sheer truth is, that Sly and the Family Stone were at their very best playing live, they never failed to fill a venue. And frankly, when they were given free rein to jam in the studio, it was magical.
Did you know he wasn't always the singer, or ever the only one? He was the magician, the creator - the genie on the sweet keys, or maybe making those strings sing, or maybe all of it. Because he was that guy.
He was that guy who ONLY played what he felt, he only wrote his truth. The music, the words they really came from his soul. He never sold out, he was perfectly happy with the idea of making his music accessible to the masses because even the straight folks should be able to enjoy his music.
If you ever had any doubt at all of his genius or his truth. Listen to this Live version of Stand! Sly will bare his soul and lend you a hand all at once.
Oh, you have to listen to this.
The more I read about Sly, the more I wanted to hug him, sit with him, be in his presence, have a conversation with him. A gift like his is so rare. It really is, that to just be able to share a moment with it, can enrich for a lifetime. And although The Family Stone has played without him, and don't get me wrong they are some FREAKING amazing musicians, it's not the same as the man. You can play the music, but the music was born out of the man.
I've read a lot of people who said is music was "simple" but when you look at the big picture, it was anything but. Sure some songs were technically simple, but look at The Beatles, it doesn't make them any less genius.
And I've read that Frank Zappa didn't think much of him, which I find fascinating and disappointing. There must be some underlying story there, because my only reason for looking into that question was some similarities I heard, as a Zappa fan. There's allusion to Frank thinking he was a sell-out, but Sly was not a sell-out, he genuinely wanted everyone to "Dance to the Music".
Following The Dead for so many years I can only imagine that a Sly and the Family Stone show would have been like that times a million as far as the jams and getting down, man Getting Funky!
Talk about a time when you had to be there to truly understand! Luv N' Haight, man - I took a break from life for a while and crashed with some friends for a few months in San Francisco. Spent many a day up by the Haight, but it was not this. Nope. Those days are gone, we can only listen now.
Also, love to hear Cynthia sing.
Sly and Carlos Santana got really close, listen to this song, sound familiar? Music was love, Sly was happy for his songs to be repurposed and redone between people who loved music.
I Ain't Got Nobody - Sly and the Family Stone
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