Stanley Clarke wrote this song in 1974 as a wedding gift for his girlfriend of two years, Carolyn Helene Reese, who would soon become his wife. At the time when Stanley and Carolyn first met in 1972, Carolyn asked Stanley what he does for a living. Clarke responded by telling her, "I'm a player from the Streets of Philadelphia."
This is perhaps the most misinterpreted lyric of the song, as nowadays, the term "Player" is often used to refer to a man or a woman who plays with people's hearts like it's a game. The lyric actually refers to the fact that Stanley is a musician, more specifically a bass player, from the streets of Philadelphia. Stanley and Carolyn were married in 1974. A couple months after their wedding, they were blessed with their first child, a baby son named Christopher Ivanhoe Clarke.
When Clarke read the lyrics, the producers were impressed with his work. One of the record execs wanted to hear the melody. When he played the melody, the producers and record execs wanted to see if perhaps Stanley could try something new for this record. Because Clarke is typically a bass player, the producer thought that perhaps it would be cool if he tried his hand at vocals on a record. Stanley was hesitant at first, realizing that he wasn't technically a singer. But the pressure was on: the record execs, the producers, and even the studio manager agreed it would be a good idea.
This smooth ballad, whose rhythm is a moderately slow beat, combines disco, R&B, and 1970s funk with the jazz style made famous in Philadelphia. The jazzy skat-style vocals in the background are reminiscent of Earth, Wind & Fire.
The jazz giant Stan Getz, who had a hit in 1964 with his duet with Astrud Gilberto, "The Girl From Ipanema," is featured on tenor saxophone. Lee Ritenour played guitar on the track, with Ronnie Foster on piano and Harvey Mason on drums. The vocalists were Cathy Carson, Gwen Owens and Juanita Curiel.
Suggestion credit: Annabelle - Eugene, OR, for all above