Sly and the Family Stone - Dance to the Music

Sly and the Family Stone - Dance to the Music

‘Dance to the Music’ is a 1967 hit single by soul/funk/rock band Sly and the Family Stone. It was the first single by the band to reach the Billboard Pop Singles Top 10, peaking at #8 and the first to popularize the band's sound, which would be emulated throughout the black music industry and dubbed "psychedelic soul". It was later ranked #223 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. ‘Dance to the Music’ by Sly and the Family Stone was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

None of the band members particularly liked ‘Dance to the Music’ when it was first recorded and released. The song, and the accompanying Dance to the Music LP, were made at the insistence of CBS Records executive Clive Davis, who wanted something more commercially viable than the band's 1967 LP, A Whole New Thing. Bandleader Sly Stone crafted a formula, blending the band's distinct psychedelic rock leanings with a more pop-friendly sound. The result was what saxophonist Jerry Martini called "glorified Motown beats. 'Dance to the Music' was such an unhip thing for us to do."

However, ‘Dance to the Music’ did what it was supposed to do: it launched Sly and the Family Stone into the pop consciousness. Even toned down for pop audiences, the band's radical sound caught many music fans and fellow recording artists completely off guard. ‘Dance to the Music’ featured four co-lead singers, black musicians and white musicians in the same band, and a distinct blend of instrumental sounds: rock guitar riffs from Sly's brother Freddie Stone, a funk bassline from Larry Graham, Greg Errico's syncopated drum track, Sly's gospel-styled organ playing, and Jerry Martini and Cynthia Robinson on the horns.

An unabashed party record, ‘Dance to the Music’ opens with Robinson screaming to the audience, demanding that they "get on up...and dance to the music!" before the Stone brothers and Graham break into an a cappella scat before the song's verses begin. The actual lyrics of the song are sparse and self-referential. The song serves as a Family Stone theme song of sorts, introducing Errico, Robinson, and Martini by name. After calling on Robinson and Martini for their solo, Sly tells the audience that "Cynthia an' Jerry got a message that says...", which Robinson finishes: "All the squares go home!" The Stone Brothers and Graham repeat the a cappella portion before the refrain of the repeated title is mentioned over and over with the sound of the instruments dropping out, except for the electric guitar, being played in the upper register, before the song's fade. The song mentions the line: "Ride, Sally, Ride", a lyric from the Wilson Pickett hit song "Mustang Sally" (1966).

Labels – Epic, EMI, Columbia
Songwriter – Sly Stone
Producer – Sly Stone


[Intro: Cynthia Robinson]
Say, get up and dance to the music!
Get on up and dance to the music!
[A Cappella Break: Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, Larry Graham]
[Chorus: All, Greg Errico, Freddie Stone]
Dance to the music
Dance to the music
Dance to the music
Dance to the music (Hey, Greg) What?
[Verse 1: Freddie Stone]
All we need is a drummer
For people who only need a beat, yeah
I'm gonna add a little guitar
And make it easy to move your feet
[Verse 2: Larry Graham, Sly Stone]
I'm gonna add some bottom
So that the dancers just won't hide
You might like to hear my organ
I said ride, Sally, ride, now
[Bridge: Freddie Stone, Cynthia Robinson, Jerry Martini]
Cynthia (What?) Jerry (What?)
If I could hear the horns blow
Cynthia on the throne, yeah
Listen to me, Cynthia and Jerry
Got a message they're sayin'
All the squares, go home (Yeah)
Yeah, ooh
Listen to the voices
[A Cappella Break: Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, Larry Graham]
[Outro: All, Sly Stone]
Dance to the music (Ah-ha)
Dance to the music (Yeah, yeah, yeah)
Dance to the music (Oh, now, now)
Said, dance to the music (Yeah)
Dance to the music (Yeah)
Dance to the music
Dance to the music
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