RaR20 – Respect
Listen to the recording of the tune by clicking the attached mp3 file. This will open the recording in a new window or tab. Listen and follow along with the listening guide in the book.
Read the liner notes below.
Read the information “What to Listen For”
Respond to the Rate-A-Record/Questions by clicking on the assignment link and then click on on the button “Write Submission” (to the right of Text Submission) to record your response. Do not use the comments field.
Respect by Aretha Franklin
In Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the best 500 songs of all time, Aretha Franklin’s scorching cover of Otis Redding’s top forty hits “Respect” appears as number five. As numbers one through four are all originals, this technically makes “Respect” the best cover version ever put on wax. Her interpretation was so powerful and definitive that Redding declared publicly that despite his authorship she owned the tune for all time. The song was recorded shortly after Jerry Wexler signed her to the Atlantic label. Even though her six-year tenure at Columbia had failed to make her a star, Wexler felt that Aretha’s full potential as a vocalist hadn’t yet emerged. He sent her to the Fame studios at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and put her at the piano to conduct Booker T. and the MGs and the Memphis Horns. The session yielded her first hit, “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You),” and revealed her skills as an arranger and her chemistry with the mighty Stax rhythm section. Wexler flew all of them to New York to record the follow-up.
Franklin’s version of “Respect” is markedly different from Redding’s original. Many of the song’s most definitive moments—the chanted quasi-refrain of “Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-spect” which separates the verses, the stop time passage in which Aretha spells out the title, and the chanted, double-time “sock-it-to-me” litany— were introduced by Aretha’s background singer (and sister) Carolyn. Aretha’s other sister, Erma, also sang on the session. The three grew up singing together in their father’s church and were deputized as backup singers when Aretha realized that “I Never Loved A Man . . . ” needed something extra in the chorus. The King Curtis saxophone solo presented something of a challenge. There is no bridge in the Otis Redding version, so there were no chord changes to serve as an accompaniment. Wexler had Booker T. and the MGs play the changes to “When Something Is Wrong with My Baby,” a song that Stax stars Sam and Dave had recorded the previous day.
WHAT TO LISTEN FOR:
The predominance of the backbeat from the drums and the driving figures in the bass – really sets up the groove and vibe
Background vocal effects
Refrain or hook – high level of “fear germ” effect – (i.e. tune/hook gets stuck in your head)
Awesome saxophone solo
There’s only one Aretha Franklin – amazing vocal style and singing!
RATE-A-RECORD/QUESTIONS TO ANSWER:
In Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the best 500 songs of all time, Aretha Franklin’s scorching cover of Otis Redding’s top forty hits “Respect” appears as number five. Why do you think this is so?
Give it a rating: 0 = Bad, 100 = Awesome. Defend your number.
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