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Family Affair

by

Sly & the Family Stone



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

According to Dave Marsh's book 1001 Greatest Songs, Sly Stone's manager told Rolling Stone that Family Affair was the story of Sly's own life, which was being cut up by the factions that surrounded him in his stardom. Chief among those factions, David Kapralik hinted, was Sly's own family. Sly denied this. He told Rolling Stone, "Song's not about that. Song's about a family affair, whether it's a result of genetic processes or a situation in the environment." There was a rumor at the time that Stone had written it in response to demands made on him by black nationalist groups, who didn't approve of his integrationist sensibility.
According to the Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs, when There's A Riot Goin' On came out in 1971, a reporter mentioned the rumor that Sly Stone had played all the instruments himself, and he asked Sly just how much he played. "I've forgotten, man," Stone said. "Whatever was left." (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2)
The song's rhythm was provided by a drum machine, making it one of the earliest hit recordings and the first #1 single to use such a device.
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Comments (7):

Just joined; Does anyone know what Sly's song "In Time" is about? The lyrics are smooth but fragmented. Greatness!
- Felix, New York, NY
Does anyone have the lyrics? I love this song but I have trouble making out some of them. For example I wanted to make sure he was singing, "What of it?" in the line, "It's a family affair - what of it?"
- Kirsten, New York, NY
Sly Stone was one of the first artists to use a drum machine in his recordings. A song he produced for Little Sister (1970's "Somebody's Watching You"), became the first top-40 hit to feature a drum machine.
- John, Nashville, TN
"nobody wants to blow" i've always thought that meant leave. "blow" is a sometime slang for leave as in "we're gonna blow this joint" I assume Sly means that newlyweds and nobody wants to leave the other.. but they aren't sure
- Jeff, Chicago, GA
It is a shame drugs destroyed his life because he was one of the most talented muscians.
- Scott, Palm Desert, CA
To me this song is the greatest song ever written.It speaks loudly and true to form about what goes on within every family.No one can't say that there isn't a child who 'loves to learn'and also a child you'd 'love to burn'in your family.This man knew how to write songs as every song he wrote we found ourselves shaking our heads in agreement with the things his lyrics stated.The man wrote'killer' hooks and in my opinion he is one of the greatest singer/songwriters of all time.


he said in his songs.
- Kevin, Brooklyn, ND
"Newly wed a year ago, just still checkin' each other out, hey. Nobody wants to blow. Nobody wants to be left out." Gee. I wonder what that's about!
- Guy, Woodinville, WA
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