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*10.24-I WANT TO TAKE YOU HIGHER (Sly & the Family Stone)

Sly & the Family Stone

LISTEN

[Intro]

Feeling's gettin' stronger.
Music's gettin' longer too.
Music is flashin' me.
I want to, I want to, I want to take you higher!
I want to take you higher!
Baby, baby, baby light my fire!
I wanna take you higher!

Boom laka-laka-laka, boom laka-laka-laka boom

Feeling's nitty-gritty.
Sound is in your city too.
Music's still flashin' me!
Don't ya, don't ya, don't don't don't ya want to get higher?
Don’t you want to get higher?
[Refrain]

Boom laka-laka-laka, boom laka-laka-laka (7x)

[Break]

Higher (7x)

Feeling that should make you move.
Sounds that should help you groove.
Music still flashin' me!
Take your places…
I want to take you higher.
I want to take you higher.
[Refrain]

Boom laka-laka-laka, boom laka-laka-laka (9x)

Higher (8x)

[Break]

Boom laka-laka-laka, boom laka-laka-laka (8x)

Higher (8x)

Boom laka-laka-laka, boom laka-laka-laka (8x)

Higher (8x)

Boom laka-laka-laka, boom laka-laka-laka (8x)

Higher (9x in doubletime)


With its rousing gospel inflected message that music will set you on a higher plane (along with the drugs you may be taking), I Want To Take You Higher gets the psychedelic message across forcefully…and in a uniquely performative way. Psychedelic music had tended to be “in one’s head” and often a private matter even if gathered with friends; it wasn’t as a rule dance music or physical music. Sly and the Family Stone’s song is extremely successful in rousing people to their feet and shaking their behinds. There’s a hint of the disco era that was coming in a few years in the beat, and there’s a whole lotta funk already realized. Arena rock arrived in 1969, meant to be played to large audiences, but I Want to Take You Higher was one of the first of this kind, a perfect vehicle for the Woodstock concert at which it was played. Though the song wasn’t as big a hit on the radio as some of the other Sly & the Family Stones were, this song made an indelible impression upon the moment, as much an anthem for hippies at Woodstock as the Beatles’ All You Need is Love had been to the Summer of Love.

Matthew Greenwald wrote in allmusic that “Combining a fabulous electric guitar riff, frantic gospel-inspired vocals, and one of the finest rhythm sections tracks of the period — as well as a timely message — I Want to Take You Higher may just be one of the great late-'60s rock moments. Beyond that, it's also perhaps one of the finest Sly & the Family Stone tracks. A blues harmonica and relentless beat (another of Sly's disco "blueprints"), it grooves from start to finish. Also, the song contains yet another of the group's great, wordless vocal hooks…Definitive late-'60s record and song? No doubt about it.” Psychedelic music in the past had created a unity among its audience by abstraction, meditation, shared values and contemplative religion. Sly was getting his message of unity across with stomping Holy Roller fervor and speaking in tongues.

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