Sly and the Family Stone Want You to Stand Up
In 1969, Sly and the Family Stone released their fourth studio album, “Stand!” It dropped at a moment of intense cultural and political change, a moment when many groups who were seeking equality — on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation — finally seemed to be gaining some ground. “There was a whole lot of freedom being fought for at that time,” recalls George Clinton, frontman of the band Parliament-Funkadelic and a friend of Sly Stone’s.
The album provided a soundtrack for that fight — a powerful, punchy soundtrack with a bit of a party vibe. The title track, in particular, resonated. “This was like a Civil Rights anthem made rock-friendly” says Jeff Kaliss, author of “I Want to Take You Higher: The Life and Times of Sly and the Family Stone.” According to George Clinton, “Sly had messages in everything he said. When he said ‘stand,’ it was demanding. It meant get up.”
Other songs on the album, like “I Want to Take You Higher” and “Everyday People,” became part of the soundscape of the late ‘60s after the band’s legendary appearance at Woodstock. As Clinton remembers it, “‘Take You Higher’ was what Woodstock was all about. It was the epitome of that rock era. That was the top of the mountain.”
By now, the songs on “Stand!” are among the most sampled in history. In March, 2015, the Library of Congress formally recognized the cultural importance of “Stand!,” adding it (alongside 24 other recorded items) to National Recording Registry in Culpeper, Virginia, as part of the Library’s ongoing effort to “safeguard the words, sounds and music that embody who we are as a people and a nation.”
Voices: George Clinton, Jeff Kaliss, Freddie Stone