Until You Come Back to Us
August 16, 2018 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Aretha Franklin died today at 76 from complications due to pancreatic cancer. Beginning singing at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, she went "secular" in 1960 with Capitol Records, but her fame took off in 1967 with Atlantic, where she would record such hits as "Respect", "Natural Woman", and "Think". She signed with Arista in 1979 and appeared in "The Blues Brothers" in 1980. Among her many standout moments, one that was surprising and immensely memorable was her 1998 Grammy performance of "Nessun Dorma", filling in for Pavarotti. She had 18 Grammies, 75 million record sales, and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in 1987). Rest in peace.
posted by WCityMike (236 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:42 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Foosnark at 7:42 AM on August 16, 2018


Accidentally omitted: her performance at Obama's inauguration.
posted by WCityMike at 7:43 AM on August 16, 2018 [30 favorites]


I'm gutted. There isn't a dot big enough for this massive iconic woman.
posted by yoga at 7:43 AM on August 16, 2018 [14 favorites]


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posted by Iridic at 7:43 AM on August 16, 2018


Oh no. The world is less.

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posted by amanda at 7:44 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


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posted by dogstoevski at 7:44 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:45 AM on August 16, 2018


R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
posted by chavenet at 7:45 AM on August 16, 2018 [23 favorites]


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posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:46 AM on August 16, 2018


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Thank you for including her performance at the Kennedy Center. It brings tears to my eyes. As the New Yorker describes it:
Aretha comes out onstage looking like the fanciest church lady in Christendom: fierce red lipstick, floor-length mink, a brocaded pink-and-gold dress that Bessie Smith would have worn if she’d sold tens of millions of records. Aretha sits down at the piano. She adjusts the mike. Then she proceeds to punch out a series of gospel chords in 12/8 time, and, if you have an ounce of sap left in you, you are overcome. A huge orchestra wells up beneath her, and four crack backup singers sliver their perfectly timed accents (“Ah-hoo!”) in front of her lines. Aretha is singing with a power that rivals her own self of three or four decades ago.

Up in the first tier, sitting next to the Obamas, Carole King is about to fall over the rail. She is an honoree, and wrote “A Natural Woman” with her first husband, Gerry Goffin. From the moment Franklin starts the first verse—“Looking out on the morning rain, / I used to feel . . . so uninspired”—King is rolling her eyes back in her head and waving on the music as if in a kind of ecstatic possession. She soon spots Obama wiping a tear from his cheek. (“The cool cat wept!” King told me later. “I loved that.”)
"The cool cat wept." I still love that.
posted by spaet at 7:46 AM on August 16, 2018 [122 favorites]


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posted by Secret Sparrow at 7:48 AM on August 16, 2018


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Facebook feeds and phone speakers and radios around me have been filled with her music the last few days. It sort of felt like a wake in that way. I forgot how many of us called her Auntie Rere or Retha. Damn. I live less than an hour outside of Detroit and heard several newscasters with broken voices when they reported her in the hospital a few days ago. I already miss her and I'm a young'in. Every black church this coming up Sunday is about to be lit to the gods (or God I should say).
posted by Freeze Peach at 7:48 AM on August 16, 2018 [16 favorites]


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posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 7:49 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by cooker girl at 7:50 AM on August 16, 2018


"Me and my baby
We had a big fight
And we ended our romance the same night
In a angry mood
She walked out the door
And he said he saw her going to an Aretha Franklin show

Hey, Aretha, play one for me
One that will let her know I’m as miserable a man could be
Will you sing a song, that will touch her heart
And make her sorry that we are apart"
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:50 AM on August 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


Her 1998 Grammy performance of "Nessun Dorma ", filling in for Pavarotti.

Pavarotti can't make it, so you call Aretha Franklin. That works. It says something about her lasting influence that StructureSon, who rarely agrees with me about music, is as sad I am.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 7:50 AM on August 16, 2018 [24 favorites]


“Shit.”

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posted by Fizz at 7:51 AM on August 16, 2018 [24 favorites]


As a high-schooler, I really only had ears for British Invasion rock and pop until Aretha.

Death be not proud.
posted by Chitownfats at 7:52 AM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


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posted by Halloween Jack at 7:52 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Going To Maine at 7:52 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Sreiny at 7:53 AM on August 16, 2018


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Fuck. She reigns as Queen eternal.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:53 AM on August 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


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Knew it was coming, but still really sad.
posted by SansPoint at 7:56 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]




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posted by LobsterMitten at 7:56 AM on August 16, 2018


Well, dammit.

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posted by Ipsifendus at 8:00 AM on August 16, 2018


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I feel really lucky to have gotten a chance to see her perform live.
posted by brilliantine at 8:00 AM on August 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


Thank you Ms Franklin. Rest well.
posted by terrapin at 8:00 AM on August 16, 2018


When Aretha Franklin Offered To Post Bail For Angela Davis
Total R.E.S.P.E.C.T
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posted by adamvasco at 8:01 AM on August 16, 2018 [32 favorites]


Let us bow our heads.


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posted by corvikate at 8:02 AM on August 16, 2018


> Her 1998 Grammy performance of "Nessun Dorma ", filling in for Pavarotti.

Pavarotti can't make it, so you call Aretha Franklin. That works.


I was watching the Grammys that night, and just read someone's recollection of that moment; it was literally a last-minute thing. It was a half hour before Pavarotti was supposed to go on and he had finally said "sorry, I'm too sick," so the producers were scrambling "who else is here that we could get for this?" They sent Sting out to introduce her and also fill the crowd in on "okay, here's what literally just went down...."

I remember when they announced her name I was baffled ("Aretha Franklin....for Pavarotti?") but then when she sang I was struck into slack-jawed amazement.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:02 AM on August 16, 2018 [16 favorites]


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posted by lazaruslong at 8:04 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by ZeusHumms at 8:05 AM on August 16, 2018


"The cool cat wept." I still love that.

And that, kids, is the difference between “cool” and “cold”.

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posted by TedW at 8:06 AM on August 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


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My personal favorite, Aretha at the Fillmore, Bridge Over Troubled Water
posted by cottoncandybeard at 8:08 AM on August 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


I love you Aretha! Thanks for everything!
posted by Meatbomb at 8:08 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Producer Ken Ehrlich, from his book, on Aretha's 1998 "Nessum Dorma" performance:
"OK, if that's what you want."

Those words, spoken very quietly by Aretha Franklin in a cramped, hot, fourth-floor dressing room at Radio City Music Hall, on the night of the 40th Annual Grammy Awards, are the closest I can come to answering the question that I am most frequently asked -- "What was the most tense moment in your career as a television producer?"

This is a tale of terror, unpredicatability, and ultimately, the truly amazing grace of a woman whose anthem song "Respect" took on a new and eternal meaning for me as a result of this one day in Grammy history.

Here's the situation: that afternoon at the dress rehearsal for the show, a tired but seemingly cooperative Luciano Pavarotti had worked his way through "Nessun Dorma," the operatic aria that we had all hoped would be the high point of a Grammy show that also contained performances by an amazing number of superstars, including Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Will Smith and Stevie Wonder.

But now it was showtime, and Pavarotti hadn't returned from his Central Park West apartment. He was scheduled somewhere in the middle of our three-hour show, so although my unwritten rule is that all talent is in the house before we go on the air, I wasn't overly concerned. There were plenty of other things to worry about.

We were about an hour into the show when my assistant Ron Basile rushed up to me offstage with a hastily scrawled number for Pavarotti at home. I found a quiet phone deep in the depths of Radio City, took a breath, and made the call.

You know what's coming.

"Ken, I'm sick. I can't come and sing. I will sing for you next year, but what will you do now?"

"First, Luciano, I will get off the phone and try to figure out how to fill four-and-a-half minutes of the Grammy Awards when we're already a half-hour into it."

Said with less harshness than the words indicate in print, it was still a critical situation that needed to be dealt with -- and fast. And I might add, in my 20-plus years of doing live television, though we had faced artists dropping in and out of shows prior to their airing, this was the first time I had ever faced an act canceling after the show was already on the air.

My first thoughts were random. You don't work with people for 20 years without creating some long-term relationships in the business -- and the Music Hall was filled with many of those folks that night. Should I go to Sting (who was introducing Pavarotti, but not performing that night) and ask him to perform? Among the performances still left in the show was one by Fleetwood Mac, and I thought about going to Lindsey Buckingham and asking him to extend their medley, which I had already trimmed to a tight five-and-a-half minutes. But how could I go to them after we had delicately negotiated them down from nine minutes in the beginning? Or should I think about going to Stevie, my old friend and someone who was always ready with something and ask him to do a second performance, in addition to his duet with Babyface?

One thing was certain, however. Though Kelsey Grammar was hosting the show, his strengths as an actor did not include ad-libbing -- and I couldn't put him in the position of "stretching" for up to five minutes without material.

And then it struck me. Three days earlier Aretha (with whom I've worked for nearly 20 years) had sung the aria "Nessun Dorma" at the Musicares benefit dinner ... in another key, with another arrangement, without a full orchestra. She had told me numerous times over the years we've worked together that she always wanted to sing opera, but to ask her to sing it in front of millions ...

She was scheduled to perform about 30 minutes from the present moment in a brief, but fun Blues Brothers medley with Dan Aykroyd and John Goodman, doing "Respect" as only she could.

I called for my long-time friend and coordinating producer Tisha Fein and Phil Ramone, who had produced the Musicares event, and we raced up the four flights of stairs. We had about fifty minutes before we got to the highly anticipated Pavarotti performance (the nonperformance). When I got to Aretha's small, overheated dressing room, complete with vaporizer and hangers-on, she was fanning herself, quietly waiting to go on. And then we hit her with this lightning bolt of a statement.

"Aretha, we have a problem. I know it's short notice, but how would you like to sing twice tonight? Go out there and do 'Respect' and then 20 minutes later, supported by a 65-piece orchestra and a 20-voice chorus, do 'Nessun Dorma'?"

And that's when she uttered those words. I knew she would, even before I had taken the first steps up the heart-attack stairway in the bowels of Radio City Music Hall. I will always love the Queen of Soul.

And though to many people, that was the Night of Soybomb disrupting Bob Dylan's triumphant Grammy performance, and Ol' Dirty Bastard storming the stage to interrupt Shawn Colvin's well-deserved acceptance speech, for me the 40th Annual Grammy Awards will always be the Night Aretha Franklin Saved the Grammys -- and not incidentally, my professional life.
posted by WCityMike at 8:09 AM on August 16, 2018 [137 favorites]


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posted by ocular shenanigans at 8:13 AM on August 16, 2018


I must go cover the mirrors, wear black, tear my clothing. The Queen is dead. Thank you, Aretha, for the soul you shared with us.

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posted by theora55 at 8:14 AM on August 16, 2018 [11 favorites]


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posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:14 AM on August 16, 2018


Gutted.

I was only around her personally a couple times here in Detroit, but it's almost like someone I knew better is gone.

For decades her music has saturated my soul with something amazing that I can't quite even put into words.

This is a tragedy for her, for her family. But as a great admirer, I selfishly feel it's not fair to many of us. Now more than ever we need the light and power of great art.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:14 AM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


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posted by mikelieman at 8:15 AM on August 16, 2018


February 2018: I hit a wall in the middle of recording a covers album when I couldn’t find the chords for one of the songs. I was on the verge of abandoning the project... until a Twitter friend sent me a link to Aretha’s Live at the Fillmore album. I gave myself a day, listened to her Bridge Over Troubled Water cover on a loop, and found a way to record the song. I felt a little like Aretha tapped me on the shoulder and said “go that way.”

Learning about her activism and her musical genius has enriched my love of her music and gave me a way into a towering talent.

Respect, yes, but also love. She left the world a little better than she came into it.
posted by pxe2000 at 8:20 AM on August 16, 2018 [15 favorites]


That voice.
Her presence.
RESPECT .
posted by BlueHorse at 8:20 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]




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posted by evilDoug at 8:21 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Making You Bored For Science at 8:26 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by sexyrobot at 8:26 AM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


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posted by snuffleupagus at 8:27 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Krazor at 8:29 AM on August 16, 2018


One of the world's great engines of love and joy has gone silent. A sad day.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:30 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Farewell, your majesty.

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posted by thivaia at 8:31 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Silverstone at 8:35 AM on August 16, 2018


And now I’m crying in public from reading that Nessun Dorma story. What a performer. What a class act.
posted by greermahoney at 8:36 AM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


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posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:36 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by wanderingmind at 8:44 AM on August 16, 2018


Madame, you were an inspiration and a true, true star.

We are poorer again.

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posted by seyirci at 8:44 AM on August 16, 2018


The first song I ever played on stage with a band was R.E.S.P.E.C.T. I have always been proud of that fact.

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posted by 4ster at 8:44 AM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


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posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:45 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by tobascodagama at 8:46 AM on August 16, 2018


Also, in case anyone else (like me!) always heard the mondegreen "take out the T-C-P" in "Respect", here's the Oxford Dictionary clarifying it.
posted by WCityMike at 8:47 AM on August 16, 2018 [15 favorites]



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posted by lovermont at 8:49 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by tdismukes at 8:50 AM on August 16, 2018


Spirit in the Dark (Reprise) - Live at the Filmore
Amazing Grace - Amazing Grace (Live at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church)
posted by box at 8:50 AM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


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posted by hap_hazard at 8:51 AM on August 16, 2018


One Step is one of the most beautiful, perfect songs ever written and recorded. A perfect embodiment of the era just before I was born, in a place I barely knew in the years I lived there, just having the vaguest impressions available to someone who wasn't a part of it then, with a picture formed only by personal stories and photos from Life magazine, or whatever. Detroit, Motown, the fuck you I AM of all of it, it was, in retrospect, so much of what I love and admire and aspire to be.
The story of her performance at the Grammys is the perfect embodiment of this-- FUCK IT, LET'S DO THIS BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE COULD.

I mean, who you gonna call? You call The Queen.

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posted by rp at 8:52 AM on August 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


I watch the video of her Kennedy Center/Natural Woman performance whenever I need an emotional boost. Never fails to give me the best kind of chills.
posted by bookmammal at 8:55 AM on August 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


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posted by slipthought at 8:56 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Mogur at 8:56 AM on August 16, 2018


"Whether it was Gospel, Blues, Jazz, R&B, Pop or Civil Rights, Aretha Franklin was the greatest gift and the voice of a generation. She could turn any song into a hymn. She will be greatly missed here on earth, but that band in heaven just got our Angel. Rest in Peace Aretha."
-- Willie Nelson
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:57 AM on August 16, 2018 [17 favorites]


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posted by filtergik at 9:01 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


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posted by praemunire at 9:08 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


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posted by /\/\/\/ at 9:11 AM on August 16, 2018


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You better think.
posted by valkane at 9:11 AM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 9:12 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by thomisc at 9:12 AM on August 16, 2018


Three days earlier Aretha (with whom I've worked for nearly 20 years) had sung the aria "Nessun Dorma" at the Musicares benefit dinner ... in another key, with another arrangement, without a full orchestra.

as soon as I heard the chorus come in, my first thought was, "OMG that's a terrible key! How is she going to get those low notes?" But of course she got them, because she's Aretha Blessed Franklin, that's how.

Pancreatic cancer is a horrible, horrible way to go. I've watched too many people die in agony from it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:13 AM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


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posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:23 AM on August 16, 2018


I am sorry to hear this.
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posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:25 AM on August 16, 2018




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posted by fraula at 9:35 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


When I hear “Miss Aretha Franklin” I inevitably think of George Clinton saying it, his voice thick with praise. She had pride of place in Parliament’s "Chocolate City," a fever dream from 40+ years ago that increasingly sounds like a dispatch from a saner universe next door:
…And when they come to march on ya, tell 'em to make sure they got their James Brown pass.
And don't be surprised if Ali is in the White House.
Reverend Ike, Secretary of the Treasur(y).
Richard Pryor, Minister of Education.
Stevie Wonder, Secretary of Fine Arts.
And Miss Aretha Franklin… the First Lady.
Are you out there, CC?

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posted by miles per flower at 9:36 AM on August 16, 2018 [11 favorites]


Well, hell. At least we had warning. She still makes me feel good. Mockingbird. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. Oh Happy Day. I Say A Little Prayer. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. Respect. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.
posted by pracowity at 9:41 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


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posted by Kwine at 9:41 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by haiku warrior at 9:42 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by obloquy at 9:42 AM on August 16, 2018


Beginning singing at New Bethel Baptist Church

Where she sang this.(grab a hanky).
posted by Alter Cocker at 9:42 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Found recently: a letter from Aretha Franklin to Emory Douglas, Minster of Culture for Culture of the Black Panther Party

My favorite part about this is how vulnerable she let's herself look while still signing her letter The Queen of Soul.

You're damn right.

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posted by East14thTaco at 9:42 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


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posted by runehog at 9:43 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by eustacescrubb at 9:45 AM on August 16, 2018


The video is grainy, but the sound is good - Aretha Franklin on MV
Features 3 consecutive nights of concerts at Fillmore West (a few of the single songs hve been linked already)

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posted by DigDoug at 9:49 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


President Obama:
"... In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect."

Full FB post, with photos, here.
posted by martin q blank at 9:50 AM on August 16, 2018 [10 favorites]


The profile of Aretha Franklin in The New Yorker mentioned earlier in this thread concludes with a great quote from Billy Preston, who died in 2006:
I don't care what they say about Aretha. 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.
posted by New Frontier at 9:52 AM on August 16, 2018 [44 favorites]


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posted by SonInLawOfSam at 9:54 AM on August 16, 2018


"From the time that Dinah Washington first told me that Aretha was the “next one” when she was 12-years old, until the present day, Aretha Franklin set the bar upon which every female singer has been & will be measured. And she did it with the professionalism, class, grace, & humility that only a true Queen could. I treasured every moment that we spent together from working in the recording studio, to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or simply hangin’ in the kitchen, & I will miss her dearly. RIP Ree-Ree....You will reign as the Queen forever. <3 <3 <3"
-- Quincy Jones
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:57 AM on August 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


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posted by Faint of Butt at 10:00 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by oneironaut at 10:12 AM on August 16, 2018


"I'm devestated to hear that Aretha Franklin passed away this morning... She was an original and a trailblazer... I was lucky to call her a friend. Thinking back on the time we spent together, I'm reminded of a few years ago when she and I starred in a Super Bowl commerical for Snickers. Wonderful memories."
-- Liza Minnelli
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:18 AM on August 16, 2018 [10 favorites]


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posted by aerotive at 10:33 AM on August 16, 2018


show(ed) me the way to Soulville
posted by Fupped Duck at 10:35 AM on August 16, 2018


Museum Curators Reflect on the Legacy of the Queen of Soul - Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian.com
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:38 AM on August 16, 2018


I'm so glad I got to see her on her last trip to the Bay Area. She had little stamina, but she was still amazing.

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posted by suelac at 10:42 AM on August 16, 2018


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posted by bryon at 10:44 AM on August 16, 2018


Really hit me hard. The world feels a bit less joyful and beautiful.
posted by vacapinta at 10:45 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


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posted by bile and syntax at 10:55 AM on August 16, 2018


Respect. Rest in power, Ms. Franklin.
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posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 11:03 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am devastated, but at the same time I am grateful, because now her battle with pancreatic cancer is over. She was magnificent. She transcends everything.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:05 AM on August 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


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posted by annathea at 11:23 AM on August 16, 2018


I didn't think I'd cry, but I did. She's been a part of the music of my life since I was a child. What a loss to the world.
posted by happyroach at 11:25 AM on August 16, 2018


This is one of those where I simply have no words.

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posted by MexicanYenta at 11:27 AM on August 16, 2018


If I'm learning anything today, it's that Aretha Franklin did more awesome stuff that I've forgotten she did than probably anyone.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:31 AM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


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posted by stanf at 11:32 AM on August 16, 2018


I'm six years old, sitting in the living room with my father, working on my spelling words. I have always been a terrible speller, so this is not going well. I'm getting frustrated, and my father is too. Finally, we make it to the last word on the list for the night.

I stand up, as straight as I can, and on-key and in-tune, loudly sing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" to my father.

Thanks for all the memories, Aretha.

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posted by PearlRose at 11:33 AM on August 16, 2018 [17 favorites]


A couple I remember: My Cup Runneth Over, Are You Leaving Me (Demo).

And Spirit in the Dark (different version than box's).
posted by hap_hazard at 11:33 AM on August 16, 2018


A poem by Rick Lupert, in her honor today:

Another set of notes
from the soundtrack
to our entire lives
exists now only
as soul

mad respect
posted by corvikate at 11:41 AM on August 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


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posted by Lyme Drop at 11:43 AM on August 16, 2018






"When you’re onstage with the Queen, you better bring your A game." Aretha Franklin sang “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman” with Carole King on VH1's Divas Live in 1998 and took Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, and Shania Twain to school.

Aretha Franklin Was The Original Pop Diva
The “Aretha story” goes like this. Back in ’98, Franklin’s management had apparently instructed the producers to shut off the concert venue’s air conditioning during her rehearsal. It was bad for the vocal chords, they insisted. But when Franklin stepped onstage to run through her numbers, she demanded silence. Placing her hand near a vent, Franklin discovered a breeze was indeed wafting through the room.

“She threw a hissy fit and walked out of the backstage into a car and left,” producer Wayne Isaak said.

Chaos ensued. Was the AC system actually on ― and, if so, why? According to Murphy, the Beacon Theatre was coincidentally running a test of its ventilation that day, so yes, it was on. According to producer Lauren Zalaznick, however, the AC was so off that “the other performers were horrified” by the saunalike environment. Either way, frenzied phone calls followed, and no one was sure whether Franklin would be back for the telecast.

Eventually, the staff learned that Franklin had fled to her hotel, where she was cavalierly snacking on powdered donuts during a dress fitting. Was it a sign that Miss Franklin, as everyone called her, would arrive for the live show without a rehearsal? “Divas Live” was a multimillion-dollar broadcast, and what mattered most was everyone showing up for their cues.

“Things were coming down from Mount Sinai,” Zalaznick said. “We didn’t know [if she’d return], and then all of a sudden the clouds parted, the tablets were delivered, and suddenly we knew. To me, it felt that mysterious and insane.”

The show would not only go on; it would become a hallmark of Franklin’s career.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:57 AM on August 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


Such a tremendous loss. She was magnificent, but I think my favorite fact about her (aside from offering to pay Angela Davis's bail), was that her famed huge handbags that she brough on stage were actually filled with cash, which is how she demanded to be paid even when famous, per this New Yorker profile in 2016:
On the counter in front of her, next to her makeup mirror and hairbrush, were small stacks of hundred-dollar bills. She collects on the spot or she does not sing. The cash goes into her handbag and the handbag either stays with her security team or goes out onstage and resides, within eyeshot, on the piano. “It’s the era she grew up in—she saw so many people, like Ray Charles and B. B. King, get ripped off,” a close friend, the television host and author Tavis Smiley, told me. “There is the sense in her very often that people are out to harm you. And she won’t have it. You are not going to disrespect her.”
posted by TwoStride at 11:59 AM on August 16, 2018 [20 favorites]


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posted by sleeping bear at 12:00 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by drnick at 12:01 PM on August 16, 2018


She was magnificent.

Yes she was. Definitively.

The world is less magnificent now.
posted by flabdablet at 12:03 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


As a friend of mine said, it was (maybe morbidly?) nice to have a couple days' notice at least. Typically, tribute listening parties feel like you're yelling "I fucking love your music!" into a void. This allowed us to pretend that maybe she was picking up the vibe in some way.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:04 PM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


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posted by jozifd at 12:05 PM on August 16, 2018


Something He Can Feel (not an En Vogue cover, in fact written by Curtis Mayfield!). Also A Song For You. And what the heck My Way.
posted by hap_hazard at 12:05 PM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


nice to have a couple days' notice at least.

And there were reports of lots of friends-from-the-industry coming to say their farewells. Felt like the Queen holding court one last time, perhaps.
posted by TwoStride at 12:06 PM on August 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


As I’ve struggled with my faith throughout my life, Aretha’s voice has always been the line between my agnosticism and atheism. The way her music moves my soul has always felt to me like God was speaking through her. Somehow despite not having faith that God exists, I know Aretha is with her sisters and brothers, mother and father, feeling safe, free of pain, and comforted from her fears and worries. She was a magnificent performer, arranger, writer, pianist, diva. It has been a blessing to live in her time.
posted by sallybrown at 12:12 PM on August 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


(I forgot to add, there is nothing that can make me cry like the point in “Precious Memories” from “Amazing Grace” when the choir and her sisters’ voices swell behind her after she sings “Jesus whispers.” What a comfort is right.)
posted by sallybrown at 12:15 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


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posted by candyland at 12:19 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:28 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by kinnakeet at 12:29 PM on August 16, 2018


I’ve been donating to nonprofits that share the vision of public figures who died as a way of honoring them. Since Aretha died of pancreatic cancer, I’m making a donation to Lustgarten Foundation, and if you have the means I invite you to do the same.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:29 PM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


In the NPR '99 interview re-broadcast this afternoon she relates the lyrics in the respect song used a street phrase that was picked up by a popular TV comedy series that was perhaps the most pervasive meme of the early 70's "Sock it To Me".
posted by sammyo at 12:30 PM on August 16, 2018


The complete legendary 1971 Fillmore West concerts are on youtube:

3/5/71
3/6/71
3/7/71
posted by toxic at 12:36 PM on August 16, 2018 [9 favorites]


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posted by Sphinx at 12:42 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by numaner at 12:45 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by CommonSense at 12:51 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Mental Wimp at 1:02 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by juv3nal at 1:10 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by daybeforetheday at 1:10 PM on August 16, 2018


. This loss has hit me surprisingly hard.
posted by annieb at 1:20 PM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


Respectiescat in Pacem.
posted by ocschwar at 1:23 PM on August 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


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posted by Coaticass at 1:26 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Faintdreams at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by pianoblack at 1:40 PM on August 16, 2018


Sleep well, queen

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posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 1:53 PM on August 16, 2018


Nikki Giovanni, Poem for Aretha
Cause nobody deals with Aretha—a mother with four children—
having to hit the road
they always say "after she comes
home" but nobody ever says what it's like
to get on a plane for a three week tour
the elation of the first couple of audiences the good
feeling of exchange the running on the high
you get from singing good
and loud and long telling the world
what's on your mind.

Then comes the eighth show on the sixth day the beginning
to smell like the plane or bus the if-you-forget-your-toothbrush
in-one-spot-you-can't-brush-until-the-second-show
the strangers
pulling at you cause they love you but you having no love
to give back
the singing the same songs night after night day after day
and if you read the gossip columns the rumors that your husband
is only after your fame
the wondering if your children will be glad to see you and maybe
the not caring if they are scheming to get
out of just one show and go just one place where some doe-doe-dupaduke
won't say "just sing one song, please!".

...
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:55 PM on August 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


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posted by eckeric at 2:36 PM on August 16, 2018


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(Thanks for all the links - I needed them today.)
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:38 PM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


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posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 3:16 PM on August 16, 2018


Memories of me and my best friend singing along to Natural Woman - but not to Aretha's lead! Didn't dare! We did the "A-whoop"s with her back-up singers.

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posted by goofyfoot at 3:28 PM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


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posted by Elly Vortex at 3:41 PM on August 16, 2018


Maybe ten years ago I came across a "Aretha's Best" CD in Value Village. I wasn't familiar at all with her work and couldn't have named more than three or four of her songs off the top of my head, but I liked some of the songs on the CD and it was cheap so I bought it. I first listened to it some days later, when I threw it on in order to have something to listen to while I was working on some sewing. By the time I'd listened to those ten songs I understood why she was known as the Queen of Soul. There really isn't anyone like her.

It also amused me that day that while I was listening to Aretha, my neighbours in the attached house next door were listening to Shania Fucking Twain. (The family next door to me is black; I am white.) I reflected that I'd gotten by far the better of that cultural exchange.
posted by orange swan at 3:47 PM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


There aren't very many people's who status I think of as unassailable. National treasure for sure.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:50 PM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


My favorite version of Bridge Over Troubled Water.
posted by uosuaq at 4:17 PM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


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posted by augustimagination at 4:50 PM on August 16, 2018


Is it a stretch to suggest that she could be a bridge over troubled waters? Today, and of course, several decades ago.

The stuff I've been reading and listening to today touches on so many high points of late 20th Century American life that if we were looking for the real Zelig, or a culturally savvy, politically aware Forrest Gump, we'd have found our man in Aretha.

In short, it appears that Aretha was there at the pinnacle of everything I hold dear about America. The civil rights stuff, the pioneering social and cultural changes wrought by blacks, women, and so many other communities, the gala moments at the Capitol and Kennedy Center, the joy and exuberance her songs generated at house parties throughout the land and across the decades. Aretha holds America's greatness in ways that give meaning and gravitas to the notion. Even when she's gone. Because it's all right there to see.

So, bridges. Here's a person who represents the best America has to offer, and I think we can expect universal, unilateral agreement on that point. The First Lady of Soul is a figure of unity and transcendence. Connection and endurance. She shows the way.

Amen.
posted by rustipi at 5:05 PM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


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posted by condour75 at 5:08 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 5:12 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by gusandrews at 5:24 PM on August 16, 2018


There are times when no superlative can do justice. At these times all we can do is say thank you to whatever forces in this universe bless us with such gifts.

This is one of those times.

RIP
posted by Pouteria at 5:41 PM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


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posted by dubitable at 5:41 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 5:42 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


𝄐
posted by runcifex at 5:47 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


When I found out that Otis Redding had written and first recorded Respect, I wondered what he thought about the song as Aretha essentially owned it. Like OWNED it. I decided after a brief search, that who cares? Otis was the man, but it did not matter what he thought, Aretha was really the owner of the song. Otis still got his royalties.

Today, while driving home, I was listening to the Big Steve Hour on Sirius radio. Steve Parrish that is . Steve Parrish of Jerry Garcia's roadie Steve Parrish. He went on and on about how much Jerry loved Ms. Franklin. Did not matter who you were, what you played, what you did, Aretha Franklin got RESPECT.

Thank you Aretha. Much RESPECT.

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posted by AugustWest at 5:48 PM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'd like to thank the family for the statement they made earlier this week. That really helped soften the blow this time.

Still, this was always going to be heartbreaking. We love you Aretha.
posted by adept256 at 6:09 PM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


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posted by mygothlaundry at 6:10 PM on August 16, 2018


"How I Got Over" still lifts me up. Thank you, Aretha Franklin.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:14 PM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


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posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 6:23 PM on August 16, 2018


Aretha shutting down Liz Smith when Smith opined that Aretha's fashion choices were poor.
posted by TwoStride at 7:03 PM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


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posted by k8bot at 7:14 PM on August 16, 2018


This was a harder loss than expected. Thank you, Queen Aretha, we were not worthy.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:18 PM on August 16, 2018


It was an appropriately grey, rainy day here in SE Michigan today.

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posted by axiom at 7:31 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 7:56 PM on August 16, 2018


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Am always proud to say that we shared the same birthday
posted by 404 Not Found at 8:05 PM on August 16, 2018


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Tearing up to young Aretha joyously celebrating the land where we will Never Grow Old.
posted by p3t3 at 8:33 PM on August 16, 2018


UPDATE:

I am kind of embarrassed to realize this so late, but I just realized that the 'Nessum Dorma' link in my original post was not the Grammy performance, but from when she performed that for Pope Francis in 2015.

Her Grammy performance would be this link. Not to criticize the 2015 performance at all, but I definitely like the 1998 performance better -- it's newer to her and so you see her happiness in just blowing it so. far. out. of. the. park. -- and the blown-away crowd reactions are very fun as well.
posted by WCityMike at 8:40 PM on August 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:48 PM on August 16, 2018


.

I'm introducing my youngest to The Blues Brothers (Carrie Fisher!) for the first time today, a film and soundtrack that I watched repeatedly as a kid and my introduction, starry-eyed, to Aretha Franklin. She's already swaying on her feet and humming along.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:03 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Not enough dots.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:13 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by dbiedny at 9:32 PM on August 16, 2018


Aretha shutting down Liz Smith when Smith opined that Aretha's fashion choices were poor.

You come at the Queen, you best not miss.
posted by azpenguin at 10:51 PM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Not enough dots.

I think it's wonderful that most of the thread is substantive comments
posted by thelonius at 10:56 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


"Rock Steady" on the Flip Wilson Show.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:11 PM on August 16, 2018


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posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:13 PM on August 16, 2018


Aretha Franklin made me believe in my existence: in my brown resistant. Now I need to sing about it
posted by blessedlyndie at 11:28 PM on August 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


RIP to the legendary, iconic, supremely influential Queen.

& she was a beast on the keys.
Evil Gal Blues, 1964
Dr. Feelgood, live 1968
Don't Play That Song, live 1970
posted by mia_farrow at 12:54 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


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posted by Ms. Moonlight at 1:50 AM on August 17, 2018




NPR's "Fresh Air" reran a 1999 interview with Ms. Franklin yesterday.
posted by Gelatin at 3:01 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


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posted by james33 at 3:12 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is totally tangential, but it always raises a smile when I think about it.

In the UK there's a very long-running soap opera called Coronation Street. It's basically a neverending kitchen-sink drama about ordinary working-class people, known for its affectionate character portrayals and frequently very witty writing.

Waaaaay back in the Nineties they introduced a transgender character called Hayley, in what I think was a world first for a soap. She became close to a man named Roy, but when he found out she used to be known as Harold, he freaked out and cut it off. Poor Hayley moved on and tried to pick up the pieces once again.

Before long Roy realised he had been foolish, and that love is love and doesn't always turn up where you expect it to. He sought her out to try and regain her affections. Eventually he succeeded, and as he led her up the stairs to do what lovers do, the music playing in the background was – what else? – Aretha singing "You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman".
posted by Buck Alec at 4:59 AM on August 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


When I found out that Otis Redding had written and first recorded Respect, I wondered what he thought about the song as Aretha essentially owned it. Like OWNED it. I decided after a brief search, that who cares? Otis was the man, but it did not matter what he thought, Aretha was really the owner of the song.

That pretty much was Otis Redding's reaction, actually. I've read that when he first heard her cover, he turned to the other people in the room - with a delighted grin - and said "that girl just stole my song from me."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:40 AM on August 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


“Aretha Franklin Goes Home,” Chuck Reece, The Bitter Southerner, 17 August 2018
posted by ob1quixote at 7:56 AM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


The Once and Future Queen. A voice for the ages. Just superb. Take me to heart and I'll always love you.
posted by h00py at 8:08 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Can you imagine being Adele and hearing this? Aretha in full flight, with all the weight of her years behind her and still glorious.
posted by h00py at 8:19 AM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


“Soul to me is a feeling, a lot of depth and being able to bring to the surface that which is happening inside, to make the picture clear. Many people can have soul. It’s just the emotion and the way it affects people.” – Aretha Franklin, 1968

RIP, Lady Soul.
posted by virago at 8:37 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


A thought that hit me last night while watching some obit stuff on TV.

Rather like Elvis, I suppose, I've never given Ms. Franklin a lot of thought. She (by which I mean her voice, her soul) has simply, significantly, always been there, one of the culture's primary colors (if sound can have a color, of course it can), so evident not just standing on its own but also as an influence in so very much else, that you stop noticing it. Nevertheless, we'd be in an entirely different world without it.
posted by philip-random at 9:19 AM on August 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


They're pulling the videos of the Grammy performance of Nessus Dorma fast and furious; here's one that's up if you need a rewatch today. I did.
posted by donnagirl at 12:52 PM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


“The Houses Aretha Built,” Patterson Hood, The Bitter Southerner, 17 August 2018
posted by ob1quixote at 2:58 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


That divas live show. I’m chuckling because who thought these were singers put up next to Aretha? It’s almost embarrassing to see shania doing whatever she is doing. It looks like Mariah had stage fright. And now to know that Aretha didn’t even show up for rehearsal.

That is just cracking me up.

I am not sure if there was to be more of the other women singing or if they were just back up but I feel like she steam rolled them in the best way possible. You’re great but I’m Aretha. And she Aretha’d all over the place.


I’d have to watch the whole episode to get a better feel for it but I feel bad for everyone except Carole king and Gloria who seem to be the only ones who seem to know it was always an Aretha show.

I’ve got the money and opportunity, I’ve got to start going to more shows while I can see legends in our time. (Seeing janelle next month) I’m not a fan of concerts bc crowds but seeing Aretha live should have been on my list.

Watching these videos is bringing tears in the way that only really good shit does. Thanks for posting.
posted by sio42 at 4:47 PM on August 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:54 PM on August 17, 2018


My Grandma always mispronounced her name as "Uretha" and never understood why it made us giggle. I would love to believe they're somewhere having a laugh about it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:31 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I usually heap disdain on obit cartoons using the 'pearly gates' trope, but Luckovich showing previously departed royalty and nobility of music "bow down to the queen" moved me.

Respect is too mild a term... H.O.N.O.R.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:38 PM on August 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


some backstory -- and a nice remembrance! -- on the making of 'i never loved a man / do right woman' and her career :P
posted by kliuless at 5:57 PM on August 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


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