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Standin’ ‘ With Sly

Promotional photo of Sly & the Family Stone fo...

Promotional photo of Sly & the Family Stone for Rolling Stone, 1970 (Wikipedia)

Stand! by Sly and the Family Stone (1969) is one of the best songs on one of the best albums ever recorded. Tomorrow night a bunch of Bay Area bands will pay tribute to Stand at the Fox Theater in Oakland, following a day-long symposium at which Sly himself will speak; the latter is billed as the first annual convention of The Family Stone. If that sounds grandiose, consider this: The Family’s members were black and white, male and female–a first in rock ‘n’ roll.

Undercover, the extravaganza’s organizer, has produced similar events for outstanding albums since 2010, covering such classics as Paul Simon’s Graceland, Dylan‘s Highway 61 Revisited, and Joni Mitchell‘s Blue. According to their website:

UnderCover Presents is a small grassroots collective that gathers musicians from every corner of the San Francisco Bay Area’s music scene to celebrate the broad influence of classic albums. The concept is simple: bands are invited based on their enthusiasm for the album from a range of musical genres that reflect the diverse styles and cultures that make Bay Area music unique. Each band picks a different song from the album and infuses it with their distinctive sound and personality.

Stand! (the song) epitomizes the times in which it was created more so than any single song of its era. The lyrics, with multiple meanings on the personal, political and spiritual levels, speak for themselves:

Stand! In the end you’ll still be you
one that’s done all the things you set out to do.
Stand! Theres a cross for you to bear
things to go though if you’re going anywhere.

Stand! For the things you know are right
It’s the truth that the truth makes ’em so uptight
Stand! All the things you want are real
You have you to complete and there is no deal.

Stand! Stand! Stand! (Everybody)
Stand! Stand! Stand!

Ooo-ooh Stand
You’ve been sitting much too long
There’s a permanent crease in your right and wrong
Stand! There’s a midget standing tall
and a giant beside him about to fall.

Stand! Stand! Stand! (Everybody)
Stand! Stand! Stand!

Stand! They will try to make you crawl
and they know wht you’re sayin makes sense and all
Stand! Don’t you know that you are free—
Well at least in your mind if you want to be.

Stand! Stand! Stand! Na na na na na na na na nana
Stand! Stand! Stand! Na na na na na na na na nana
Stand! Stand! Stand! Na na na na na na na na nana
Stand! Stand! Stand! Na na na na na na na na nana


As you can no doubt tell, this is no preachy piece of jargon, but a highly danceable, singalong rocker. The opening drum roll is immediately recognizable, and worth a listen in itself. But hey, don’t take my word for it: if you’re too young to have dug Sly back in the day, check ’em out now; and if you’re as old as I am, you can come back baby, rock ‘n’ roll never forgets.

And everybody, don’t forget to Stand!



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