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8.13-WE LOVE ALL (Sly & the Family Stone)

Sly & the Family Stone

LISTEN

I am a believer
That love is a deceiver.
People don’t like what they don’t understand.

        We love all y’all. (3x)
        Yes we do.

                Unlike the fuzz and his gun
                Unlike the judge and his son
                Unlike the local meter man
                Unlike the very latest scam

        [Chorus]

                Unlike the colonel and his plan
                Unlike the landlady’s new old man
                Unlike society’s addiction
                Unlike the town with its restrictions

        [Chorus]

                [Break]

        [Coda]


The album and song Dance to the Music introduced the world to Sly and the Family Stone, a group that managed to bring together the beginnings of Black funk (James Brown’s Cold Sweat was released in July 1967) and White pop music in a manner that appealed to both races. Jimi Hendrix, it is true, was a Black artist much revered by Whites for his psychedelic music, but he was slow to bring along audiences raised on soul, Motown, rhythm & blues. It is my contention that Sly and the Family Stone invented, through the merging of psychedelic and soul, the kind of funk that would lay the foundation of the careers of such bands as Parliament, Funkadelic, and Cameo in the 1970s and 80s. In the process, Sly & the Family Stone were the first Black (actually interracial) psychedelic group to consistently reach the top of the pop charts. Sylvester Stone brought in elements of psychedelic music to his songs from the start, but in 1968 it was most evident in a track (We Love All) that was dropped from the introductory album and only revived later in CD collections as a bonus track.

We Love All (Y’all) is built almost entirely from a blues riff with horn accents, but the horn is used as odd punctuation sometimes, as a “psychedelic” sound effect rather than as a true accompaniment. There’s humor in the horn. However, the song is introduced with a slow organ piece that sounds something like a gospel testimonial. This introduction (“people don’t like what they don’t understand”) seems to find common ground between “the establishment’s” view of both Blacks and hippies as outcasts. However, the line about love being a deceiver seems to imply that one can love something without understanding, but that it won’t last, it will be a mere infatuation, unless one learns to like (find common ground with) it as well. The chorus assures that Sly & the Family Stone loves “all y’all” (all the outcasts whatever denomination) listening to the record. The common ground is in how “unlike” Sly Sylvester’s audience is from the examples of the establishment that form the verses. The “fuzz” was another word for “cop” back in the day. The “unlike” verses remind me a bit of Sonny & Cher’s The Beat Goes On (released January 1967).

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