ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969
This is Chapter 25 (day 23):
Written by Sylvester Stewart (Sly Stone)
Performed by Sly and the Family Stone
Recorded at Pacific High Recording Studios, San Francisco, CA
Drummer: Greg Errico
“Oh my gosh! Norman!”
“I see him!” Norman crowed.
He turned off the radio and flipped on his right-turn signal.
A boy was hitchhiking on the side of the road, walking backward, facing them, arm held high, thumb out.
“No what?” He sounded so happy. “We’re picking up a body in need! That’s what I promised Ray I would do. And we’ve got hamburgers!”
He pulled the bus off on the shoulder, as traffic whizzed by. He opened the folding door. The boy trotted toward them. Molly tucked the bill into her shorts pocket and hoped fervently she wouldn’t lose it.
The boy had a fresh haircut, short and neat. He wore crisp khaki slacks like Norman’s and a striped pullover shirt. He stood at the bottom of the stepwell, looked up at Molly and Norman, and blurted, “Thanks a lot!”
“Where to?” asked Norman in his most friendly voice.
“Little Rock, or as close as you get to Little Rock.”
“That’s where we’re going,” said Norman. “Hop in.”
Welcome to Arkansas, Molly and Norman. As they cross the Mississippi River, they sing along with the radio, where Sly and the Family Stone are singing “Everyday People” just as they are about to pick up a new rider.
The lyrics to “Everyday People” are perfect for ANTHEM’s story and themes, even though, for permissions (and cost) issues, we cut most of them from this chapter. I hope you’ll listen to the song, though, as you read, so you can hear those “different strokes for different folks” and “I am no better, and neither are you// we are the same, whatever we do.”
This happy, bouncy song, playing on the radio, begging them to sing along, lifts up Molly and Norman as they leave Margaret and Birdie and Ray behind, and cross into the unknown… just before their bus breaks down. Which turns into an opportunity. Of course.
I think of Sly Stone’s music as “happy funk.” Try “Dance to the Music” for another great example of this “psychedelic soul.” “Dance to the Music” has a great drum beat by drummer Greg Errico as well — right up Norman’s alley with those killer fills.
In chapter 25, halfway now, I wanted to introduce a San Francisco band as well, as we are heading to San Francisco with this story. Just got to get across the rest of the country to get there.