Dance To the Music – Sly & the Family Stone (Dance To the Music, 1968)
Ground zero for the subgenre that came to be known as “psychedelic soul” in the next few years (the Temptations and 4 Tops would follow suit not long after this) and the forerunner of ‘funk’ is this Sly & the Family Stone classic “Dance To the Music”. It was the lead-off single and title track to the group’s second LP that found the group under the directive from Clive Davis to make a more “pop friendly” sound. In response all the group did was find a formula to stick to the assignment and from those parameters make something wholly original and unbelievable.
The song itself bursts at the seams of the group’s virtuosity as all the parts of the band get a chance to take a bow throughout the song. Everything from the organ, the drums, the bass, the guitar, the trumpet, the voices and even the fans get called out on this not-even-three- minute tour de force. On the surface it’s lyrically simple as one-and-all are implored constantly to “Dance To the Music!” but this was music to dance your butt to whether you were young, old, fat, tall or skinny. And as far as that goes it was amazingly effective.
For me this song has always been a go-to in the Sly & the Family Stone catalog as its unstoppable, eclectic and clever. Also, if you aren’t having a great day mood-wise this one will turn that frown upside down, and really what more could we ask from our Top 40 pop songs in 1968? While the band would go on to have bigger hits before and after this, it was a Top 10 hit and everybody from your grandma to kids graduating today will groove and bop their heads to it. Now that’s classic :)!