Aretha Franklin, the great American singer who became a defining voice of the 20th century and the acclaimed Queen of Soul, died at her home in Detroit on Thursday from pancreatic cancer, her publicist said. She was 76.
“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on,” Franklin’s family said in a statement.
A preacher’s daughter, Franklin began her career as a teenager in the 1950s, and her inimitable voice allowed her to hop between gospel, R&B, classical and jazz genres with grace. She went on to win 18 Grammy Awards, sell more than 75 million records in her life, and become one of the best-selling selling artists of all time. But out of all the songs she recorded, “Respect,” her demand for dignity, became her signature song that is still played in living rooms and at political protests today. The story of how Franklin took a song originally written and released by Otis Redding and made it her own can be career inspiration for us all.
How Franklin made “Respect” her own
In Redding’s version, “Respect” is about a man pleading with a woman to give him respect in exchange for what he can provide for her. Redding sang: “Hey little girl, you’re sweeter than honey / And I’m about to give you all of my money / But all I want you to do / Is just give it, give it / Respect when I come home … ”
When Franklin recorded “Respect” on Valentine’s Day in 1967, she kept most of the original lyrics but transformed the meaning of the song with the addition of a bridge and the call-and-response of her sisters. Under Franklin’s version, “Respect” became more than a domestic dispute. It became an empowering feminist anthem for women to be treated equally at home and at work.
“Oooh, your kisses,” Franklin sang, “Sweeter than honey / And guess what? / So is my money.” In her most memorable addition, Franklin spelled out her demand for parity for emphasis in the bridge: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T/ Find out what it means to me /R-E-S-P-E-C-T / Take care, TCB [take of business].”
When Franklin’s version hit the airwaves, it became a massive hit, spending two weeks as the No. 1 song in America in 1967. It became a rallying cry for women’s rights and the civil rights movement. Today, it has been referenced and sampled in dozens of feature films. We all want R-E-S-P-E-C-T. “I think that hook line is something we all relate to,” Franklin told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s something we all appreciate and expect.”
It ranks No. 4 on “Songs of the Century,” a 1999 project by the National Endowment for the Arts. “Respect” is now remembered for being Franklin’s more than Redding’s. Even Redding acknowledges this. When he played it himself at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, he said, “This next song is a song that a girl took away from me!”
33 thoughts on “The story behind Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ shows us how to make projects our own”
A terrific tribute Mihran. Thank you.
Thank you sincerely for your kind words, appreciate it.
Thanks for sharing, Mihran. RIP, Aretha. I grew up in Detroit listening to her music. She will be missed by many.
Thank you Mary, you are so kind and great comment. I am grateful for your support and participation.
My pleasure. 😊
One of the American greats.
indeed, much respect to your comment. Thank you!!
She was a Force to be reckoned with. Especially as a Black woman in the US in the ‘sixties. Not an easy road by any means. She earned My respect, that’s for sure.
I very much agree with you for your correct lines and words. May God Bless you and your family!!
Thank you so much, Mihran. The very same to you! Aloha 🌈❤️🙏🏽
Dear Mihran — well done! This is a wonderful memorial. The core of all my issues at work is the lack of respect. You’ve not only paid tribute to the Queen of Soul, but you’ve brought out the importance of respect so very well. Hugs.
Dearest Teagan – I am deeply humbled and in sincerest gratitude for your unique words and compliments, I am out of words and speechless. WOW
Very interesting piece.
A beautiful tribute to an amazing woman! I don’t know who doesn’t know who Aretha Franklin is, together with her music! R-E-S-P-E-C-T! 😀 <3
Thank you Linda for your such wonderful and detailed thoughts, it means a lot to me…
So many interesting pieces of trivia in this work–thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much for your kind words, I agree with you this is a creative and detailed presentation.
Thank you for your kind words, appreciate it. On one note, you have also amazing post!!
You’re too kind!! Thank you.
well deserved, always a pleasure!!
Wonderful post and the songs made it come alive – great tribute
Thank you for your participation and kind words, grateful for your support!
thanks for a lovely tribute to a great artist 🙂
Thank you deeply for your beautiful words, appreciate it!!
Superb post Mihran, what a voice. A truly wonderful singer, thank you for sharing this.
I did not know this story! It’s a song that will live forever – and Aretha will always be remembered every time it’s played!
Thank you for your kind words and inspirational, I am grateful for your kind words…
My pleasure, my friend!!
A fascinating and informative post, Mihran! I love the song even more for knowing some of its history and Aretha’s power and energy is electrifying!
Thank you for your kind and appreciative words of lines.
Huge respect for this lady. 🙂 🙂 R.I.P. Aretha.