Sly and the Family Stone: 20 Essential Songs

The best from the generation-defining funk-soul-rock legends

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"If You Want Me to Stay" (1973)

The Family Stone came undone in the Riot era, amid a string of near-mythologically disastrous concerts. To work on his next album, Fresh, Sly headed back to the Bay, but began replacing several of the key players who had been with him since at least the "Dance to the Music" days. Despite the change in personnel, Fresh was a compelling sequel to Riot's funk explorations, albeit not nearly as dark or pathos-laden. "If You Want Me to Stay," the album's modest hit, still saw Sly keeping his audience at arm's length. As the singer explained on a radio interview, "That's exactly what I meant, what I wrote. If you want me to stay, let me know. Otherwise, sayonara."

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