Everyday People - Sly and The Family Stone

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"Everyday People" - Sly and The Family Stone (1969)

“Everyday People” was the first single by Sly and the Family Stone to reach number one and held that position for more than four weeks in early 1969.

Sly Stone’s message as a songwriter focused on the idea that music led to peace and equality. “Everyday People” was Sly Stone’s pleas for peace and equality between differing races and social groups, a major theme and focus for the band.

The Family Stone featured Caucasians Greg Errico and Jerry Martini in its lineup, as well as females Rose Stone and Cynthia Robinson; making it the first major integrated band in rock history. The band’s message was about peace and equality through music, and this song reflects the same.

Unlike the band’s more typically funky and psychedelic records, “Everyday People” is a mid-tempo number with a more mainstream pop feel. Singing the main verses for the song, Sly explains that he is “no better/and neither are you / we are the same / whatever we do.”

His sister Rose Stone sings bridging sections that mock the futility of people hating each other for being tall, short, fat, skinny, white, black, or anything else. The bridges of the song contain the line “different strokes for different folks,” which became a popular catchphrase in 1969 and inspired the name of the later television series, Different Strokes.

For the chorus, all of the singing members of the band proclaim that “I am everyday people,” meaning that each of them- and each listener as well- should consider himself or herself as parts of one whole, not of smaller, specialized factions.

The track features the first instance of the “slap bass” technique, which would become a staple of funk and other genres. The technique involves striking a string with the thumb of the right hand (or left hand, for a left-handed player) so that the string collides with the frets, producing a metallic “clunk” at the beginning of the note. Bassist Larry Graham who invented the technique would also use it on the group’s 1969 hit, “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” where he incorporated a complementary “pull” or “pop” component.

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