"They had the clarity of Motown but the volume of Jimi Hendrix or The Who," George Clinton said of the strange new sounds he heard emitting from Sly and the Family Stone when he first saw them in the late 1960s (Kaliss, I Want to Take You Higher, p. xi). With a steady bass, a cheerful piano, and a strong horn section, the instrumentation of this new kind of music seemed to echo classic R&B of the previous couple of decades. Songs like "Everyday People" were produced with the same kind of sleek production and sugary backup singing that Motown had succeeded with. But something about Sly and the Family Stone's sound was tinged with rock 'n' roll—maybe it was the driving bass or the electric guitar riffs (which only appear rarely in "Everyday People"). Maybe it was the band's look and identity, or Sly Stone's way of singing that echoed soul singers but hinted at something grittier.
Whatever it was, this new kind of music was described by adjectives we now associate with the 1960s: it was groovy, it was psychedelic, and it was funky. And it fact, it gradually became recognized as a whole new genre: funk. On the Sly and the Family Stone iTunes profile, Allmusic writes that "Sly brought hard funk into the mainstream."
Rapper Chuck D, who was deeply inspired by Sly and the Family Stone as a kid and samples them in his songs, describes funk this way: "You really couldn't point and say, well, this is the reason why it's funky, it's all this together like gumbo that's making this happen." Allmusic calls Sly and the Family Stone "a wild, brilliant fusion of soul, rock, R&B, psychedelia, and funk that broke boundaries down without a second thought." Although "Everyday People" is one of the band's more tame, polished pop songs, the sound still captures that energy and fusion that made their musical style so influential in its day.