Wednesday, August 15, 2018

'Say a little prayer' .................. for Aretha Franklin - VIDEO


A black-and-white photo of Aretha Franklin at a piano. 
Aretha Franklin performs at a jazz festival. 
Gamma/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images 
“The call for respect went from a request to a demand,” Jerry Wexler has said. “[It] started off as a soul song and wound up as a kind of national anthem.” Wexler, who signed Aretha Franklin to Atlantic Records, was describing to her biographer David Ritz how Franklin transformed a minor 1965 hit by Otis Redding into a statement carved into the Mount Rushmore of American music. 

There, the letters R-E-S-P-E-C-T stand eternally in solid granite. 
While Wexler (whose own death came a decade ago this week) nominally produced that February 1967 session, there’s no question it was the as-yet-uncrowned Queen of Soul who was at the helm of perhaps the greatest cover song in history, both musically and conceptually. 

 It became Aretha’s first No. 1 hit and, as Wexler said, “virtually defined the national consciousness at that moment in history,” when the civil rights movement was near its height and the push for women’s liberation was just beginning. 
 As Ritz notes, the track’s arrival on the charts on April 29 that year came the day after Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight-boxing title for refusing to be drafted into the Vietnam War—his proclamation that he owed no deference to a nation that never had respected his own people. 

Fifty-plus years later, “Respect” remains a song that lives in the world’s mouth, ready to the air in domestic arguments and political protests alike (including the 2016 women’s marches). 
It literally spells out a fundamental human need, in a way mainstream pop had not heard before, with both maximum dignity and maximum playfulness. 

It does it in the names of women, people of colour, and anyone else exhausted and exasperated with being treated as less than a full person. 
All of this somehow packed into 2½ minutes that begin with horns and a string-bending guitar riff and the big bang of “WHAT you want”
 (question mark, or exclamation point?) and then expand into a universe with no discernible terminal horizon.