Funky Friday: Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

To say that the bass guitar played a big role in the evolution of funk is an understatement. Perhaps the first great funk bassline ever put on record can be found in this featured song. Which is not to say that there weren’t great basslines before, or great bass players before Larry Graham basically invented the slap-pop (or as he called it, “thumpin’ and pluckin'”) style.

A few of the great bass players of the 1960s include the names Donald “Duck” Dunn (Booker T. & The MG’s), Bernard Odum (James Brown’s mid-60s band); and James Jamerson (too many Motown sessions to count). They all had songs during the decade where the bass figured as an integral part of songs, but there was nothing like what was coming out of the speakers when this song came out.

Along with “Hot Fun In The Summertime,” this song was to be released as part of a new album, but it ended up on the band’s Greatest Hits instead. Released just as the 1960s were beginning to turn into the 1970s, and as part of a double A-side with “Everybody Is A Star” (also included on Greatest Hits), “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”  was a huge hit for Sly & The Family Stone. It was a #1 smash on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B charts. It also was the last anyone would hear from the group until “Family Affair” was released late in 1971. The bright, upbeat tone of many of the group’s hits had disappeared into something darker and heavier.

But as far as Funky Friday purposes go, it’s all about that bass. Graham’s technique influenced a wide range of players in its wake. Any bass player in any funk band of note—think Aaron Mills of Cameo, Louis Johnson of the Brothers Johnson, Mark Adams of Slave, Bernard Edwards of Chic, and Bootsy Collins of Parliament/Funkadelic as well as his time playing behind James Brown, among many others—owe a debt to Graham. So do jazz/funk bassists like Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten. Graham himself would leave Sly & The Family Stone in 1972, and would go on to form his own band, Graham Central Station, where he deepened his version of funk with his bass pyrotechnics.

I hope you enjoy this “building block” of funk for Friday. As always, thanks for reading and listening.

11 Replies to “Funky Friday: Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”

    1. I see your question has been answered (I see ya Twin!). I’m glad you like the song and Sly & The Family Stone was one of the greatest bands there ever was. While the makeup of the band certainly made news, they made great music together. Thanks, and a Happy Friday to you as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “But as far as Funky Friday purposes go, it’s all about that bass.”
    YAAASSSSS! Twin YAAASSSS! Funky Friday gives me my life!
    All about the damn bass!

    I heard Graham say, in an interview, that he had to develop that slap, thumping technique to keep the time/beat when playing in church–you know, kinda like a drummer.
    Unrelated but maybe not….
    What do you think about James Jamerson? Many folks point to “How sweet it is” by Marvin Gaye to show his talent. Apparently he was known for being able to play very complicated bass lines.

    Now this is not particularly complex, I don’t guess, but it is the bomb!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll tackle both of your comments in one-I’d heard that Larry Graham story also. Makes plenty of sense. I never get tired of hearing him pluck and pop in this song.

        As for Jamerson, I loved his bass playing. The fact that his bass underpinned so many Motown classics makes it difficult to pick out his best work. I always think of how “My Girl” by the Temptations began with his bass, or “Nowhere To Run” by Martha & The Vandellas, or anything by the Supremes…he was extremely influential. Of the three that I mentioned of the sixties, I’d say Jamerson had the most influence, but Dunn certainly comes close for playing on a lot of those soul records from that time and just about everything from Stax in that time. Odum gets my nod for “Cold Sweat” alone.

        Jamerson was spoken of fondly as I recall in the movie “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown”, which is one of my favorite “inside music” movies. They take a look at the band and musicians that played behind so many great Motown classics in that film. If you haven’t seen it you should check it out.


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