Sly Stone doesn’t come across as ‘Everyday People’ in memoir

posted in: All news | 0

Here is the most telling sentence in Sly Stone’s autobiography: “I would say that drugs didn’t affect me too much, but I didn’t have to be around me.”

In the works for more than a decade, “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” is about drugs a lot of the time. And it’s about Stone not owning up to his responsibilities — musical appearances, child support payments, fidelity — much of the rest of the time.

Written with music biographer Ben Greenman and “created in collaboration with Sly Stone’s manager, Arlene Hirschkowitz” (whatever that means), “Thank You” is a peculiar book. It captures what one assumes is Stone’s voice — laconic, fond of wordplay, non-judgmental — but also dispassionately observes his life from the point of view of someone who is outside it. This reaches its nadir in an odd chapter about Stone guest-hosting “The Mike Douglas Show,” which seems to have been written by a stranger who watched the episode on YouTube and wrote down everything they saw.

Credit Stone for candor when he describes, for instance, shooting his pit bull after it mauled his infant son or pointing at a woman he doesn’t know with a gesture somehow universally recognized as meaning, “You’re with me from now on,” or attempting to assault a man he caught in bed with his partner, despite the fact that Stone regularly cheated on her.

Stone is equally parts charming and infuriating in “Thank You,” which is most valuable for its documentation of 1967-1973, the years in which Sly and the Family Stone were making joyful hits. Their versatility and dexterity were given a boost two years ago by Questlove’s Oscar-winning “Summer of Soul” documentary, which included them performing “Sing a Simple Song” and “Everyday People.” (Questlove’s publishing imprint is releasing “Thank You.”)

Stone doesn’t seem especially interested in revisiting the creation of those songs but “Thank You” does capture the milieu they sprang from and the vibe he hoped to convey. Maybe the best thing about the book is that it will lead music fans to dive back into that incredible catalog.

“Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”

By Sly Stone, with Ben Greenman.
AUWA, $30, Grade: C+

Tribune News Service

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.