“It’s NOT Your Neighborhood…YOU’RE THE ONE”
Vet Stone is Sly Stone’s “Little Sister.”
She appeared at Woodstock as a member of Sly & the Family Stone. She had a monster hit record back in 1970, called “You’re the One,” that I was a huge fan of, and would also prove to be quite inspirational for many others as well.
She has been engaged in a journey over the past 10 years to “bend the curve of music history.” But more importantly to restore a sense of sanity to her own family.
I have known Vet Stone for about 20 years, and no doubt she has been one of my inspirations, as I have gone about building this thing called “Soul-Patrol.com.”
However she’s been an inspiration to me for much longer than that.
Of course Vet has a new book out that I would encourage everyone here to read, that has even the slightest bit of interest in the subjects of music/history/culture. You can find out more about the book at the following link is you are interested: www.vetstone.com
Her book is of course about her history as a member of Sly & the Family Stone. But more importantly it is a story about her journey over the past 10 years or so to “bend the curve of music history,” and to restore a sense of sanity to her family.
Back in 1970, I was 13 years old…
Of course like most teenagers I was into music and of course I was most interested in Sly & the Family Stone. They were without a doubt my favorite artist at the time. Just a few years earlier, I had made my very first purchase of a 45 record and it was “Everyday People,” by Sly & the Family Stone. Of course I had liked the song and it’s message of humanity, just like everyone else did. But honestly the reason why I was quite willing to plunk down my $0.59 cents for the piece of vinyl inside of the paper sleeve wasn’t because of “Everyday People.” It was for the slammin FUNK track on the other side called “Sing a Simple Song,” on the so called “b side.”
“Sing a Simple Song” was absolutely COMPELLING to my then 11 year old mind. And of course when I got it home, I took it out of the bag, removed the sleeve, removed the cherished 45 rpm record from the sleeve and placed it on the turntable of my father’s stereo system, using the 45 spindle and plugged in the headphones. That’s because I knew that the ONLY proper way to listen to “Sing a Simple Song” was at the highest volume level possible.
And of course I was totally and completely satisfied.
Lyrically the high point of the song is Rose Stone chanting the immortal
line: “yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Then Sly saying: “all I have to hold on to is s simple song at last..”
And then the group responding with: “ya, ya, ya, ya, ya”
Lyrically, that was about as deep as things got 🙂
But to my then 11 year old mind, that didn’t matter. I had no idea what the song was supposed to be about then and even today I’m still not sure.
But what I am absolutely certain of is that the instruments absolutely blew my mind. The lyrics don’t really even matter. The voices of the members of Sly & the Family Stone so perfectly blended with the STANK FUNK of the instruments I didn’t care what they might be trying to say. I did however listen to that 45 rpm recording over and over again, as often as I could. In fact I just listened to “Sing a Simple Song” again a few moments ago. It’s probably the 10,000th time in my life that I have listened to “Sing a Simple Song.”
(& IT IS JUST AS COMPELLING TODAY)
“Sing a Simple Song” also appears on the 1969 album from Sly & the Family Stone called “STAND.” Needless to say, I brought that album as soon as I could and wore it out as well.
Fast forward to 1970 and I just like the rest of the world were wondering when Sly & the Family Stone was ever going to release another album.
One Saturday afternoon I find myself listening to my transistor radio, tuned of course to my very favorite radio station WWRL 1600 on the AM dial in New York City…
I heard a sexy female voice, half talking/half whispering…. “i’m the one, you’re the one, i’m the one, you’re the one, i’m the one, you’re the one, i’m the one, you’re the one…”
Then there are a bunch of cool lyrics, sounds like a female gospel group almost that I can’t quite make out, but they sound cool…
“Im the one who wants to be ahead
I stand in line and I’m behind instead
What is happenin, let me look around
Not a thing tryin to hold me down
Now I know I got to look at me
Some things a little hard to see”
AND THEN COMES THA BOMB…
“Some ultra phunky bass, guitar & horn riffs” (a la “Sing a Simple Song”)
And my 13 year old azz is like…..”dat’s Sly & the Family Stone.”
The ultra phunky bass, guitar & horn riffs continue, but are then assisted by the “female gospel singers,” and then I hear…
“It ain’t your neighborhood
YOU’RE THE ONE
Your mamma can’t make you good
YOU’RE THE ONE
Can’t blame no argument
YOU’RE THE ONE
Don’t you know how to take a hint
YOU’RE THE ONE
But your pity can make you numb
YOU’RE THE ONE”
These lyrics are delivered by the “female gospel singers,” in rapid fire, kinda like what we might call female rappers today, but back then it sounded more like the kind of stuff that Black girls used to say while they were jumping rope. It was their version of the dozens. It also kinds sounded the way that Black women sometimes sound when they are angry with Black men, usually delivered with their hands firmly planted on their hips.
Despite the rapid fire delivery, there was absolutely no question or confusion what this song was all about.
It was an angry song. But although it was angry, it also contained a solution to the problem. And it was a simple solution…
YOU’RE THE ONE
What a compelling challenge to have thrust in one’s face!!! It’s all about taking personal accountability for whatever your situation might be!!! (I am down with that)
One of the things that we love to do is to blame someone else for our problems. We love to point the finger; In fact we love to point the finger so much that it becomes a convenient excuse to do absolutely nothing. And of course doing nothing simply leads to a victory for the “status quo.”
I say all of this to say that back in 1970, the song “You’re the One” – Little Sister was quite inspirational to a certain 13 year old young man in NY.
I mean…..it was as if they finally found some meaningful words for “Sing a Simple Song.”
YOU’RE THE ONE
It contained much the same message as the James Brown song “I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nuthin, Open Up The Door and I’ll Get It Myself.”
I went over to my local record store and picked up on “You’re the One” – Little Sister, brought it back home and blasted it thru the headphones of my father’s stereo system, because just like “Sing a Simple Song,” “You’re the One” deserved to be heard as loud as possible and as often as possible.
In fact I just listened to “You’re the One” – Little Sister again a few moments ago. It is just compelling and fresh today, as it was back in 1970.
In some ways I think that given the current climate in the United States and around the world, it might just do a whole lot of us a heck of a lot of good to go back and listen to the song. Its message is just as relevant today as it was on the very first day that the song was released over 40 years ago.
Today we can clearly see the philosophy embodied in “You’re the One” worldwide movements such as the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and more, where people are taking personal accountability quite seriously and making change into a reality.
Fast forward to the early 2000’s…
I get to finally meet Vet Stone.
First via email.
Then via telephone.
Finally in person.
I even got to do a 1 hour long interview with Vet Stone a few years ago.
She is a compelling artist.
And she is a compelling individual.
She’s your best friend.
And she’s also your enemy’s worst nightmare.
I wanted to meet her simply because she was trying to “bend the curve of music history.”
But I grew to like her as a person because she wanted to restore a sense of sanity to her own family. Her attempt to do both of those two things at the same time is an incredible story. It is proof positive once again, that a single person can make a difference. And her story contains a lesson for us all.
I can tell you for a fact that Vet Stone is a person who “talks the talk and walks the walk.” And as such she has been an inspiration to me personally. SHE’S THE ONE
As you learn more about her, you may find yourself also to be inspired by her story about something that we thought we know all about, but in the final analysis we will learn just how little we do know.
Of course I have been privileged to be an observer to that story, in an up close and personal way that I could have never imagined possible back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when I was saving my pennies to by 45 rpm records of Sly & the Family Stone. I have even written about some of those observations here on the internet for the past 10 years.
One of the most frequent questions that I have gotten in my years on the internet has been: “Whatever happened to Sly & the Family Stone?”
The person I know who is best qualified to answer that question isn’t me. It is Vet Stone. And if you want to get as close to the truth as possible. I would suggest that you pay a visit to the following website: www.vetstone.com