Monday’s Music Moves Me – In Honor of the Queen of Soul: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin

credit Monica Ahanonu (InStyle)

Aretha Franklin, the world’s Queen of Soul, died on Thursday. She was 76. 

 

She has left behind an extraordinary legacy of music that moves, in oh so many ways, and songs that instill confidence and unleash untapped power…but more than that, she left us with anthems of great import, her most widely recognized being RESPECT.

Originally a song by Otis Redding, “Respect” was written and recorded by him in 1965, which interestingly ended up being a significant one for him as well. (It was his second Top 40 hit, following “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now),” and it helped establish Redding on mainstream radio. Otis performed the song at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and this was a defining performance for the singer, who died in a plane crash six months later).

But Aretha came along and re-imagined the song. With a re-working of the lyrics, a musical rearrangement (via the Muscle Shoals studio musician’s soulful guitar hook, the background vocals and the added sax solo) and a completely different slant on the messaging, “Respect” was suddenly recognized the world over. Aretha’s rendition found greater success than the original, spending two weeks atop the Billboard Pop Singles chart, and eight weeks on the Billboard Black Singles chart. The changes in lyrics and production drove Franklin’s version to become an anthem for the increasingly large Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements. She altered the lyrics to represent herself, a strong woman demanding respect from her man. Franklin’s demands for “Respect” were “associated either with black freedom struggles or women’s liberation.”

The song also became a hit internationally, reaching #10 in the UK and helping to transform Aretha Franklin from a domestic star into an international one.

FUN FACTOtis Redding himself was impressed with the performance of the song. At the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of the cover’s release, he was quoted playfully describing “Respect” as the song “that a girl took away from me, a friend of mine, this girl she just took this song”. “When her hit single ‘Respect’ climbed the charts in July 1967, some fans declared that the summer of 1967 was ‘the summer of ‘Retha, Rap, and Revolt.'”  Adorable!

I am partial to many of Aretha’s songs but “Respect” hits some real nostalgia notes in me. Not only is this amazing song a landmark anthem, it’s a ton of fun!

The song came out at the apex of a social and political climate on the verge of a major shift. “Respect” hit at a time when millions of people were feeling marginalized in an era where inequality and social injustice was the norm. This song became a theme song in the civil rights movement and a feminist anthem that encouraged women to not only recognize their worth but to insist that others acknowledge and respect it. It was then, and is now still, a song of empowerment.

In addition to all that (and so much more), it’s just a damn good song! It was an anthem of sorts for me too, and it was featured prominently on the jukebox of my bar. When I opened my bar, music was a priority in the planning. When I ordered the jukebox, I asked the company rep about the music. I was told that the company uses demographics and research on what songs perform best in terms of frequency of play and that they load the music based on those metrics.  And I said, “Ah, nah, I don’t like that. That’s not going to work. I want to pick and choose the music that’s going to be on my bar’s jukebox.” And so I did.

As you can imagine, that jukebox had some incredibly kickass music on it. And my bar developed a reputation for it even. I always got a charge when new folks would walk in and say “We heard this place has the best jukebox in town!” Oh yeah, proud mama.

Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” was one of the first songs I chose to be on the jukebox. It often was the ‘Last Call’ anthem. At the end of the night, I’d cue up the song and call “Last Call for alcohol!” and, with the speaker control behind the bar, I’d crank that baby up and “Respect” would vibrate and dominate. It would be so loud that it was virtually impossible to hold a conversation for those few minutes; the customers just had to get up and dance. It was a highlight on so many nights and it always amazed me how that song could completely change the mood and the dynamic of the place. Everybody would be singing and dancing and laughing because that song just moves people. It evokes an ultimate feel-good and you just can’t help but smile when it plays. Every time I hear it now, my mind wanders to my old “bar days”. Some great and interesting memories for sure.

Long Live Aretha!

I’m not going to do a big write-up on Aretha because the world is inundated with articles and stories and tributes to our Queen of Soul. There are several wonderful pieces online and I’ll share links of some that I particularly enjoyed.

I will leave you with some music though. The following is my Plug and Play Aretha Playlist for your listening pleasure. It kicks off with my top 5 favorite Aretha songs. Enjoy!

Playlist Songs, in order:

  • Respect – 1967
  • (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman – 1967 (co-written by Carole King, Gerry Goffin and Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler); the video in the playlist is Aretha’s 2015 performance at the Kennedy Center Honors in tribute to the song’s co-writer Carole King who was receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Think1968
  • Freeway of Love – 1985 (This is one of my favorite Aretha Franklin songs because it reminds me of my dear sweet Aunt Judy, who so loved this song! God rest her soul. I miss my Aunt Judy so much!)
  • Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves – 1985 (another of my favorites, this was a collaborative hit with Aretha and the Eurythmics)
  • I Say a Little Prayer – 1968 (written by Burt Bacharach & Hal David for Dionne Warwick in 1967; Aretha covered it in 1968)
  • (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone – 1968
  • I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You) – 1967
  • Do Right Woman, Do Right Man – 1967
  • A Change is Gonna Come – 1967 (Aretha’s cover of Sam Cooke’s 1964 song)
  • Spirit in the Dark – 1970
  • The Thrill is Gone – 1970 (original by blue musician Roy Hawkins in 1951 and then B.B. King in 1970; this song was the B-side to “Spirit in the Dark”)
  • Rock Steady – 1971
  • Chain of Fools – 1967
  • Dr. Feelgood – 1967
  • See-Saw – 1968 (Aretha’s cover of Don Covay’s 1965 song)
  • Don’t Play that Song (You Lied) – 1970 (performed with the Dixie Flyers, this song is a cover of Ben E. King’s 1962 song)
  • You’re All I Need to Get By – 1971 (Aretha Franklin’s cover of the 1968 duet by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell)
  • Angel – 1973 (a soul ballad co-written by Aretha’s sister Carolyn & Sonny Saunders)
  • The Weight – 1972 (This song features Aretha Franklin on Duane Allman’s “An Anthology” album)
  • Spanish Harlem – 1971 (Aretha Franklin released a cover version of Ben E. King’s 1960 song in the middle of 1971 that outperformed the original on the charts, charting #1 R&B for three weeks and #2 Pop for two weeks. Aretha’s version earned a gold single for sales of over one million. Dr. John played keyboards on Franklin’s version with Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on drums and Chuck Rainey on bass. This version hit #6 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart. Franklin also changed the lyrics slightly, from “A red rose up in Spanish Harlem” to “There’s a rose in Black ‘n Spanish Harlem. A rose in Black ‘n Spanish Harlem.”
  • Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do) – 1973
  • Day Dreaming – 1972
  • I’m in Love – 1974 – (“I’m in Love” is a song written by Bobby Womack in the 1960s in response to some of the criticism he had been receiving after marrying the widow of the recently deceased Sam Cooke. The song was given to Wilson Pickett and his version became a top-ten R&B hit on Billboard’s chart in 1968, peaking at #4 as well as peaking at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the version to achieve the most success came in 1974, when Aretha Franklin released it as a single. Her version topped Billboard’s R&B chart for two weeks and also peaked at number nineteen on the Billboard Hot 100.)
  • Who’s Zoomin’ Who – 1985
  • A Deeper Love – 1994
  • Honey – 1994 (written by Babyface)
  • Willing to Forgive – 1994
  • A Rose is Still a Rose – 1998

REST IN ETERNAL PEACE ARETHA!

“Rest in eternal peace” was the sentiment expressed by Barack Obama in his social media tribute to Aretha. He had a close affinity with her and her music moved him to tears (as evidenced in the video of Aretha’s performance for Carole King in December 2015 when she was receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Kennedy Center Honors). Aretha also performed at President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration.

Here is his Instagram post:

 

I included that Instagram post because I found this very comical mashup video on YouTube of Obama singing “Respect”. I just had to… 

 

The Beautiful Aretha Franklin

 

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I found it interesting to see how the print media is honoring this Soul Dynamo. In particular, I may order a copy of the 8-page commemorative section, “Eternal Respect”, from the Detroit Free Press, Aretha’s hometown paper. The following is taken from Ad Age magazine:

HOW NEWSPAPERS AROUND THE WORLD ARE REMEMBERING ARETHA FRANKLIN

By Published on .

Aretha Franklin, who died on Thursday, “was the loftiest name in the rich history of Detroit music and one of the transcendent cultural figures of the 20th Century,” Brian McCollum writes in the Detroit Free Press. “Raised on an eclectic musical diet of gospel, R&B, classical and jazz, she blossomed out of her father’s Detroit church to become the most distinguished black female artist of all time, breaking boundaries while placing nearly 100 hits on Billboard’s R&B chart—20 of them reaching No. 1.”

The news of Franklin’s passing continues to reverberate across the world today, and many papers, including the Free Press, pay tribute to the soul legend on their front pages this morning. A small sampling:

Credit: Detroit Free Press
Credit: The New York Times
Credit: New York Post
Credit: New York Daily News
Credit: National Post
Credit: The Washington Post
Credit: The Guardian
Credit: USA Today
Credit: The Wall Street Journal
Credit: Libération

And don’t forget: Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by Marie of X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and Stacy of Stacy Uncorked Two other co-hosts recently joined the fun: Alana of Ramlin’ with AM and Naila Moon of Musings & Merriment with Michelle. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below:

A is for AC/DC, Aretha Franklin, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Allman Brothers, Argent, Aldo Nova, The Animals, America, Autograph and Asia!

A

Welcome to Day 1 of the Blogging A-Z 2015 Challenge!

DISCLAIMER THAT APPEARS AT THE BEGINNING OF ALL A-Z 2015 PAGES:

Welcome to the A-Z Musical Tour of My Life! I have wanted to put something like this together for a long time now and the A-Z Challenge just seemed like the perfect opportunity. I’ve compiled stories, trivia, research, music videos and live concert footage on all the bands and musical artists who have been important to me over the years, especially during my youthful years in the 60s and 70s. At first glance, the posts may seem long – and some of them are due to the number of videos included – but it’s really laid out in a way that will enable you to scroll through and read, see or hear just what you want and then either move on to the next A-Zer or linger and listen to the great music that you’ll find here. By all means, bookmark my blog so you can come back! In addition to individual songs, there are some full albums here for those who may want to enjoy some music while they’re surfing or working. I hope you find that the stories are entertaining, the information educational and the trivia interesting. It would be a tremendous honor if you would bookmark the A-Z Musical Tour of My Life as a resource for great music and music information! Now, let’s get started with…

A is for AC/DC – OMG, I love this band. I spent so many nights dancing in bars (not ON bars, mind you) into the wee hours of the morning as cover bands blasted out Hells Bells and Back in Black. Probably my fondest memory though is when I was with my friend Joanne (God rest her sweet soul, I miss her!) cruising the streets in her “roach mobile” and Hells Bells came on and we just HAD TO dance so she pulled the car over on the side of the road, cranked up the music and we both got out and danced right there on the side of the road for the duration of the song.  Cars were whizzing by, some of the honking their horns, all of them probably thinking we were nuts. But we didn’t care. We were not nuts, just stoned, probably…  And when the song was over, we hopped back in the car and on our way we went. Two wild and crazy girls, just out for a good time…

Hell’s Bells

Credit: VEVO: Music video by AC/DC performing Hells Bells. (C) 1981 J. Albert & Son (Pty.) Ltd.

Here’s Back in Black  (C) 1981 J. Albert & Son (Pty.) Ltd:

And Girls Got Rhythm – a lyrics video:

How about some T.N.T. – Music video by AC/DC performing T.N.T.. (Live At River Plate 2009)(C) 2011 Leidseplein Presse B.V.

A is for Aretha Franklin – Aretha Franklin certainly needs no introduction. Her song Respect has been the theme song to countless women the world over! When I owned my bar, one of the things that I enjoyed most was picking out the music that was to be on the jukebox. People used to say my bar had the best music in the county! New people would come in because they heard about the music on my jukebox. One night, I had just called “Last Call” and Respect came on the jukebox. I turned around and twisted that volume knob up to maximum level. And that was loud, believe me. You couldn’t even hear yourself talk. I didn’t care. I was in the mood for that song and I wanted to hear it, LOUD. Well, the place started jumpin’. Every single person was off their barstool or out of their seat and everyone was dancing and singing, belting out the words. A regular customer walked into the bar at that moment, coming in for that Last Call beer. He was blasted with the music when he came through the door and, at first surprised, he then saw what was happening and this big smile came across his face. I popped open his beer and set it in front of him and he got right into the groove too. That’s the kind of effect this song has on people. You hear it and you just want to crank it up and claim it as your anthem!

Here a cool photo-montage video. Some people don’t know this but the song was written by Otis Redding. Now TURN IT UP! And SMILE…

Respect

A is for Aerosmithoften referred to as “America’s Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band,” the group formed in 1970 in Boston. Front man and vocalist Steven Tyler, together with guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer were known for their excesses, drug consumption and debaucery. In the words of Bebe Buell, a fashion model known for dating rock muscians and having had a brief relationship with Steven Tyler (the two had a daughter together, Liv Tyler), she said of the group: “They [Aerosmith] were like a gang of kids with their own planes, Porsches, millions of dollars, limitless ressources. […] Mick Jagger and Jimmy Page had control, but these boys did not care. They won the prize, hands down, for the rowdiest rock ‘n’ roll band in that era. No question.”

Aerosmith concert stubsI’ve seen Aerosmith a few times. I remember the show at the Niagara Falls Convention Center but for the life of me I can’t recall the concert that I went to at Buffalo Auditorium! I don’t even remember the show, let alone who I went with! Aerosmith is another of my very favorite bands of all time. It’s hard to choose just ONE song as my favorite because I like SO MANY of their songs. Probably my ultimate favs are Back in the Saddle and Last Child from their “Rocks” album:

Seasons of Wither, Lord of the Thighs and Same Old Song and Dance from their “Get Your Wings” album: 

From their “Toys in the Attic” album, No More, No More:

To see them performing the song live, click this link: http://youtu.be/394kUMWTygM

Who doesn’t love Dream On from their first self-titled album: Video (C) 1973 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

And I love to sing along with Dude Looks Like a Lady (music video (C) 1987 UMG Recordings, Inc):

Here’s a fabulous 60 Minutes interview on the story of Aerosmith:

Other favorite A bands:

A is for Aldo Nova – Aldo Nova, a Canadian guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist and producer, isn’t a favorite per se because all I really know of him is the song Fantasy, his 1982 single from his self-titled album. But it’s a great song and definitely worthy of inclusion into my favorites:

A is for America – an American (soft) rock band, formed in 1970 by multi-instrumentalists Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek, and Gerry Beckley. America achieved significant popularity in the 1970s, and was famous for the trio’s close vocal harmonies and light acoustic folk sound. This popularity was confirmed by a string of hit albums and singles, many of which found airplay on pop stations.

Back in 1980, when I was working for Waldenbooks in the local mall (Summit Park Mall), I used to play America’s Greatest Hits album in the store, which violated the “company rule” that only classical music could be played while customers browsed the shelves, but my managers were cool and most of the customers didn’t mind. I played that album over and over and over, every shift I worked!

I wish I could’ve just posted their Greatest Hits album here but I’ve posted a number of their classic hits, all of which are featured on the Greatest Hits album. Scroll through and see if you remember these songs or kick back for a little while and enjoy America’s mellow sound. 

Horse With No Name

Sister Golden Hair – America performing on the Midnight Special (year unknown):

I Need You –  rehearsal footage that I think is from an America DVD

Sandman – This is a very interesting video with sand sculptures set to America’s song Sandman; includes lyrics:

Don’t Cross the River – America performs “Don’t Cross the River” with special guest, photographer/musician Henry Diltz. Diltz’ photographed many of the pictures featured in America’s album covers.

Ventura Highway

Tin Man

Daisy Jane

Lonely People

A is for the AnimalsThe Animals, a great ’60s British Invasion band led by the famed Eric Burdon, whose deep-voice vocals brought the band up the charts and into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. They had several hits, including one of my favorites, which quickly became a Vietnam War anthem: “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.”

They are probably most known for their 1964 hit song, “House of the Rising Sun.”

A is for Alice Cooper – although he seems quite the freak and I don’t revel in some of his stage theatrics, I do so love those early 70s classics. Here are my three favorites. School’s Out:

No More Mr. Nice Guy – performing live on David Letterman show in 1999, promoting his new 4-CD Box Set, “The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper”:

and I’m Eighteen – Here’s Alice Cooper performing the iconic classic (from Beat Club’s YouTube channel), and he’s maybe just a wee bit high, ya think??

A is for the Allman Brothers Band: Oh, and I also saw the Allman Brothers Band when they performed here in Austin at a an outdoor venue in the Hill Country some dozen or so years ago. Here are two of my favorites:

The Midnight Rider:

Ramblin’ Man (performed live in 1979):

A is for Argent: Argent’s Hold Your Head Up is a great anthem. Here’s some rare footage of Argent performing that classic anthem in 1972:

Liar is another one of their greats. If you’re familiar with the Zombies, then you know Rod Argent. He was the founding member of that 1960s English rock group and then went on to head Argent. This link will take you to them performing at the High Voltage Festival at Victoria Park in London, July 25, 2010 with original band members Rod Argent, Russ Ballard, Bob Henrit and Jim Rodford.

A is for Autograph: an American heavy metal band from Pasadena, California. They released several albums throughout the 1980s and are perhaps best-remembered today for their mid-1980s hit, Turn Up the Radio.

A is for Asia: And I’d be remiss if I were to leave out Asia.  I found this descriptor when I discovered this video on YouTube: “When they appeared in the early ’80s, Asia seemed to be a holdover from the ’70s, when supergroups and self-important progressive rockers reigned supreme. Featuring members of such seminal art rock bands as King Crimson (John Wetton), Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Carl Palmer), and Yes (Steve Howe), as well as Geoff Downes from the Buggles, Asia did feature stretches of indulgent instrumentals on their records. However, they also could be surprisingly poppy, and that is what brought them to the top of the charts with their debut album, Asia, and its hit single, Heat of the Moment.”  Also from that album Only Time Will Tell scored major air-play as well. Here is the band performing Only Time Will Tell live in Switzerland.

The group disbanded just three years later in 1985.

So, who are your favorite A bands? Who did I forget? What bands would you have included here? What did you like of what I posted? Please share in the Comments section! And Happy A-Z!