At this point, I’m fairly positive that every song I write about that contains the word “dance” in the title will be an upbeat, positive song.
There are very few songs more upbeat and positive than Sly & The Family Stone’s “Dance To The Music”, and there are very few bands who represented positivity more than Sly and his ragtag crew did in the late Sixties.
The Family Stone represented a utopian ideal-blacks and whites, women and men, all playing peacefully together. It’s an ideal that we are still a long ways away from reaching, even fifty years later. Of course, even Sly’s utopian ideal disintegrated as we moved into the Seventies and politics, ego and drugs came into the picture. “Dance To The Music” is a nice little snapshot of a time when that utopian ideal didn’t seem so far away. Well, once you got past the race riots and the Vietnam war and the crookedness in D.C. and…wow, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Huh?
“Dance To The Music” isn’t much of a song so much as it is a vibe. A new vibe (you might say “a whole new thing” was born hardy har har). This is where black music underwent one of its stylistic shifts-from the polished sheen of the Motown sound (and it’s more gritty Southern counterparts on Atlantic and Stax) to a more “psychedelic” sound. Rose Stone introduces the song. sounding like a demented Muppet. Sly slides in, and the other members of the band introduce their instruments. It’s delightfully democratic, and the upbeat spirit of the song is contagious.