QUEEN.
April 1, 2016 1:07 PM   Subscribe

"[I]f I’m stranded on a desert island, and have ten records to take, I know [Aretha Franklin is] in the collection. For she’ll remind me of my humanity. What’s essential in all of us. And she just sounds so damn good," writes President Obama. "Here’s a tip: when you’re deejaying a party, open with ‘Rock Steady.’ " David Remnick profiles Aretha Franklin for The New Yorker: "Soul Survivor."
“I don’t care what they say about Aretha,” Billy Preston, who died in 2006, once said. “She can be hiding out in her house in Detroit for years. She can go decades without taking a plane or flying off to Europe. She can cancel half her gigs and infuriate every producer and promoter in the country. She can sing all kinds of jive-ass songs that are beneath her. She can go into her diva act and turn off the world. But on any given night, when that lady sits down at the piano and gets her body and soul all over some righteous song, she’ll scare the shit out of you. And you’ll know—you’ll swear—that she’s still the best fuckin’ singer this fucked-up country has ever produced.”
Soundtrack: "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Natural Woman - Kennedy Center Honors 2015," "Rock Steady."
posted by MonkeyToes (28 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
I remember a radio interview with Whitney Houston, where she related a story about herself. She said she was listening to the radio in her car and Aretha came on. She said she sang along and could follow Aretha's every twist and turn and that's when she knew she had it.

I was listening and wanted to break into the interview and say to her, "Whitney, you have a good voice, a great voice, but if you think you were matching Aretha's vocals, then it is your ear that is lacking." Whitney never was able to achieve the soulfulness and exquisite timing that Miss Franklin can display almost off-handedly in even the most mundane song. Aretha is the Queen of Soul.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:57 PM on April 1, 2016 [5 favorites]




The comment in the profile about the powerful effect of Aretha's voice completely resonates with me. Her version of "How I Got Over" from Amazing Grace gave me real chills the first time I heard it as a kid, and has brought me to tears (of joy) every time I've listened to it since.
posted by amelliferae at 2:26 PM on April 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Whitney never was able to achieve the soulfulness and exquisite timing that Miss Franklin can display almost off-handedly in even the most mundane song. Aretha is the Queen of Soul.

Previously: Who is the Greatest Diva of the Last 25 Years? We Offer Scientific Proof!
posted by Iridic at 2:33 PM on April 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Previously: Who is the Greatest Diva of the Last 25 Years? We Offer Scientific Proof!

Funny. Very funny. And wrong...
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:37 PM on April 1, 2016


This required a "still alive" tag. My heart was in my throat for a minute!
posted by pxe2000 at 2:51 PM on April 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


I saw that clip where she understudied for Luciano Pavarotti on "Nessun Dorma" when it aired live; my reaction when they announced it was "wait....huh?" And then by the time she was done I was sitting there staring at the TV slack-jawed in awe.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:02 PM on April 1, 2016


The first time I heard her version of Bridge Over Troubled Water I just remember thinking dayum. Always wondered how S&G reacted when they heard it...as Otis said about her version of Respect, she just stole it from them.
posted by tallthinone at 4:06 PM on April 1, 2016


"Here’s a tip: when you’re deejaying a party, open with ‘Rock Steady.’ "

Indeed: Soul Train, April 28, 1973.

/celsius1414 dies and is dead from sheer brilliance
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:08 PM on April 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


And apropos to the title of this FPP, the end credits say "Aretha Franklin's Appearance Through the Courtesy of Queen Booking Corporation"
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:11 PM on April 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


The first time I heard her version of Bridge Over Troubled Water I just remember thinking dayum. Always wondered how S&G reacted when they heard it...as Otis said about her version of Respect, she just stole it from them.

Sorry, one more -- recently on MeFi: Aretha Franklin wows at the Kennedy Center Honors for Carole King and OWNS the building with "Natural Woman".
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:27 PM on April 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


i am glad that i am alive at the same time as Aretha.
posted by PinkMoose at 4:59 PM on April 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


I am glad that Aretha allows the rest of us to be alive.

Also if I can have just one wish, Aretha + Beyonce In Concert.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:06 PM on April 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


R-E-S-P-E-C-T
posted by needled at 6:13 PM on April 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mad respect. The voice of the century.
posted by spitbull at 6:53 PM on April 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, man, just salivating at the thought of that 'Amazing Grace' footage.
posted by box at 7:03 PM on April 1, 2016


There's a small handful of scenes from movies that will give me chills up my spine (in the good way not the scared way), no matter how many times I see them. One of them is Aretha singing "Think" in The Blues Brothers. She owns the entire movie with that one scene.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:07 PM on April 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


Fun fact! She is the only person in the movie not lip syncing. That footage is her singing live on set because apparently she actually cannot lipsync, she sings songs differently every. Single. Time.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:09 PM on April 1, 2016 [13 favorites]


as Otis said about her version of Respect, she just stole it from them.

He paid it forward by stealing the Stones' Satisfaction.
posted by beerperson at 8:10 PM on April 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


readery: “Aretha Franklin: "Nessun Dorma" Live (1998)
I got into it on Facebook about this with my opera-lover friend who called Franklin's performance "AAA at best," i.e. minor league. In the process I dug up a bunch of “Nessun Dorma” performances for comparison. With the exception of Carreras, none of them move me like Franklin.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:55 PM on April 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


The first time I heard her version of Bridge Over Troubled Water I just remember thinking dayum. Always wondered how S&G reacted when they heard it...as Otis said about her version of Respect, she just stole it from them.

I once watched a Paul Simon documentary in which he cited this as the only cover of one of his songs that he thought actually competed with the original. Which it completely does (sorry, Artie).
posted by thejoshu at 7:15 AM on April 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh Aretha, I love you.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:57 AM on April 2, 2016


and I live version of Rock Steady. I'm with Barack on this one...
posted by bluesky43 at 9:01 AM on April 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


If I’m stranded on a desert island, and have one record to take, it's the world record long distance swimming.

But on Aretha, hell yes.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:23 PM on April 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I once watched a Paul Simon documentary in which he cited this as the only cover of one of his songs that he thought actually competed with the original.

Sometimes with Paul Simon, it takes a minute for that information to sink in.
posted by box at 5:07 PM on April 2, 2016


I can't find reference to it on the Internet, but I remember reading in Rolling Stone magazine that David Byrne credited "Rock Steady" with inspiring Talking Heads, "Once in a Lifetime."
posted by jonp72 at 6:44 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Aretha's cover version of Let It Be also has the distinction of being released before the Beatles version of the song.
posted by jonp72 at 6:47 PM on April 3, 2016


I know that's the kind of thing presidents need to say when honoring well-deserved honorees, but Obama saying that he'd take an Aretha record to a desert island because she reminds him of his "humanity" is so much BS. Aretha doesn't remind me of my humanity. She constantly reminds me that she is superhuman and that she channels the divine, whether she's singing something as schlocky as "Freeway of Love" or something (from the same album!) as transcendent as "Sweet Bitter Love." All hail the queen.
posted by blucevalo at 6:13 AM on April 4, 2016


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