Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not just a little bit

Show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T today: it's the Queen of Soul's birthday.

Aretha Franklin has been knocking us off our feet since her breakthrough single made it to No. 1 back in 1967. No offense to Otis Redding, who wrote the original lyrics to "Respect" and recorded it first. Aretha made it her anthem.

The signature "Sock it to me" line was hers, and the horns of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section were a sweet addition to Redding's sparse arrangement. But it was Franklin's big booming voice and sultry command that altered the dynamics of the song and demanded: You damn well better respect me.

And not just a little bit.

"That woman stole my song," Redding remarked later, but we bet he didn't complain to her face.

Rolling Stone ranks "Respect" No. 5 on its list of the Top 500 Songs of All Time. You can argue all day about that list but not many people are going to pick on that song's position. Even more significant is her ranking as the No. 1 singer of the rock era in the magazine's tabulation of musicians, producers, RS editors and music industry insiders.

Play some Aretha today. If you don't have any music readily available here's a link to the MP3 that'll bring it all home for you. Happy No. 68.

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