Song of the Week – Sing a Simple Song, Sly & the Family Stone

Ignored             Obscured              Restored

A few weeks ago. I celebrated the anniversary of the Woodstock festival as I do every year, by watching the 3+ hour director’s cut of the documentary film.  One of the highlights is always the performance by Sly & the Family Stone.  They were sooo good!

My favorite Sly album is Stand! (1969) thought the critics favorite is always There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1971).  Although not included in the Woodstock movie, one of Sly’s signature songs from Stand! was “Sing a Simple Song”, today’s SotW.

“… Simple Song” follows a familiar formula where several of the band members are featured on vocals.  The lyrics idealistically implore us to “sing a simple song” as a solution for dealing with unhappiness.

I’m living, living, living life with all its ups and downs
I’m giving, giving, giving love and smiling at the frowns
You’re in trouble when you find it’s hard for you to smile
A simple song might make it better for a little while

The funk is incomparable.  Great horns, chicken scratch guitar, pulsing organ stabs and a heavy bottom make this track irresistible.

Apparently, many others agree.  According to Wikipedia the song has been covered by  “Dusty SpringfieldDiana Ross & the SupremesThe TemptationsThe Jackson 5The CommodoresMiles Davis (wow!), The MetersBooker T. & the M.G.’sPrinceThe Budos BandMaceo Parker and others.”

And somewhat more significantly, the song has been sampled by hundreds of rap/hip hop artists, demonstrating the lasting influence it has had on many generations.  Again, Wikipedia lists “Ike & Tina Turner2PacJodeciWu-Tang ClanPublic EnemyDe La SoulDigital Underground (“Humpty Dance“), Cypress HillGorillazArrested DevelopmentBackstreet BoysSpice GirlsAlanis Morissette, and Adina Howard” as artists that have sampled “… Simple Song.”  The website Who Sampled lists 477 songs that used “… Simple Song”!

Enjoy… until next week.

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