Agreeing to salute funk-soul legends Sly and the Family Stone on a new tribute compilation is easy. The hard part is deciding which Sly Stone hit — such as "Dance to the Music," "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" or "Family Affair" — to cover.
It wasn't a problem for Maroon 5. Not only is "Everyday People" one of Sly's best-loved tunes, it surprisingly wasn't already taken when Adam Levine and company's chance to choose arose.
"Everyone was fighting for what they wanted to do, because there are a lot of amazing Sly songs," Levine said. "They're all so good, but we stumbled on this one because no one had claimed it, which was odd. So we were like, 'Sweet. Let's kill it.' "
The Sly2K tribute album will also include contributions from Lenny Kravitz, Black Eyed Peas, the Roots and Moby as well as a John Mayer/Buddy Guy collaboration, according to an Epic Records spokesperson. Audioslave and Aerosmith have also discussed participating but haven't yet committed. The LP is expected to drop this summer.
While preparing to record "Everyday People," which appeared originally on Sly's 1969 album, Stand!, Levine said he experienced a new affinity for the song's anthemic ode to equality.
"It's positive and upbeat," he said. "I actually wrote the lyrics down. You know when you hear a song and then kind of take the lyrics for granted? But I wrote these down and thought, 'God, these are unbelievable words.' "
Maroon 5 recorded the track Friday with producer Nile Rodgers, a co-founder of disco kings Chic who's also worked with artists ranging from Duran Duran and INXS to Britney Spears and Madonna. The band had met and befriended Rodgers prior to recording its 2002 debut, Songs About Jane, but couldn't afford his day rate.
"We held a charity event to raise money to hire Nile," joked keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, "but we only raised enough money for one song."
Maroon 5 have sold 1 million copies of Jane since then, thanks to the strength of singles "Harder to Breathe" and "This Love" (see "Chart Topping And Topless Girl All Part Of Maroon 5 Singer's Plan"). Maroon 5 and Rodgers hope to work together on another project soon.
Following the recording and a performance the next evening on "Saturday Night Live," Maroon 5 resumed their tour with John Mayer, which runs through March 7 in Tampa, Florida.