Family Affair

Album: There's A Riot Goin' On (1971)
Charted: 15 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • 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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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: 8

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 31st 1971, "Family Affair" by Sly and the Family Stone entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #50; and just four weeks later on November 28th, 1971 it peaked at #1 {for 3 weeks} and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on the very same day it peaked at #1 on the Top 100 it also reached #1 {for 5 weeks} on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Between 1968 and 1975 the San Francisco-based sextet had seventeen Top 100 songs; five made the Top 10 with three reaching #1; their other two #1 records were "Everyday People" for four weeks in 1969 and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)" for two weeks in 1970...
    They just missed having a fourth #1 record when "Hot Fun in the Summertime" peaked at #2 {for 2 weeks} in 1969; the two weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "I Can't Get Next to You" by the Temptations.
  • Felix from New York, NyJust joined; Does anyone know what Sly's song "In Time" is about? The lyrics are smooth but fragmented. Greatness!
  • Kirsten from New York, NyDoes 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?"
  • John from Nashville, TnSly 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.
  • Jeff from Chicago, Ga"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
  • Scott from Palm Desert, CaIt is a shame drugs destroyed his life because he was one of the most talented muscians.
  • Kevin from Brooklyn, NdTo 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.
  • Guy from Woodinville, Wa"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!
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