Musical palate cleanser, the Queen is dead edition

Calling Aretha Franklin a giant… well, I’m not sure even that word does her justice.

Aretha Franklin, universally acclaimed as the “Queen of Soul” and one of America’s greatest singers in any style, died on Thursday at her home in Detroit. She was 76.

The cause was advanced pancreatic cancer, her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, said.

In her indelible late-1960s hits, Ms. Franklin brought the righteous fervor of gospel music to secular songs that were about much more than romance. Hits like “Do Right Woman — Do Right Man,” “Think,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Chain of Fools” defined a modern female archetype: sensual and strong, long-suffering but ultimately indomitable, loving but not to be taken for granted…

Ms. Franklin had a grandly celebrated career. She placed more than 100 singles in the Billboard charts, including 17 Top 10 pop singles and 20 No. 1 R&B hits. She received 18 competitive Grammy Awards, along with a lifetime achievement award in 1994. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987, its second year. She sang at the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009, at pre-inauguration concerts for Jimmy Carter in 1977 and Bill Clinton in 1993, and at both the Democratic National Convention and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral in 1968.

Iconic.  The greatest female vocalist of my lifetime.  All of that, and maybe more.

This may be her earliest recording, from when she was around 14 or so.

That is astonishing.

And here’s a wonderful story about her cover of “I Say a Little Prayer,” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

In a candid 2010 interview with NPR, David and Bacharach both laughed trying to describe how good Franklin’s version was.

“It’s a better record than the record we made,” Bacharach told Fresh Air host Terry Gross.

“Mmhmm. We did, yeah. And we did a great record, but she topped it,” David added.

When Gross prodded them a little more, they told her to listen to it, that you can just hear it in the effortless way Franklin sings and how the arrangement is crafted to enhance that. That Franklin sings the song as if it were a dress designed just for her.

“It’s just more natural,” Bacharach said. “We were talking about our changes and time changes on the chorus of ‘forever and forever, you stay in my heart, and I will’ — you know, that’s going 4-4, 3-4, 4-4, 3-4. Then regard the way it was treated by Aretha, because Aretha just makes it seamless, the transition going from one change to another change. You never notice it.”

Well, you’ll notice this.

Hers was a nonpareil talent.  Saying that she’ll be missed seems like an inadequate tribute.  Knock ’em dead in heaven, Queen.


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16 responses to “Musical palate cleanser, the Queen is dead edition

  1. RIP, Queen. Just the best.


  2. dawgtired

    My favorite Motown singer. I’m saddened at the news. I work out to her songs multiple times a week. She will be missed in person but her music will live forever. RIP Ms. Franklin.


  3. Jared S.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dawg Vegas


    And on the anniversary of The King passing. Long live The Queen.

    She was also an underrated pianist. When she asked the Stones for permission to record Jumpin’ Jack Flash for the soundtrack of the movie with the same name, the story goes that Keith said ‘only if you play piano on the track,’ which she did.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Harold Miller

    She was and is a National Treasure.


  6. Mick Jagger

    Errr, Aretha wasn’t Motown. More Muscle Shoals/Stax. Great nonetheless.


  7. Comin' Down The Track

    Senator, I picked up a copy of that Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul you mentioned in:
    It is… well, I find I have no words.
    The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.


  8. Russ

    Great voice. Huge voice. RIP.

    Interesting comparison on “Say a little prayer”. I actually prefer Dionne’s version (maybe because it’s more familiar to me?) as Aretha’s version is a little over produced to me. The background singers give as much as Aretha. But the thing that really stands out to me is the huge difference in Aretha’s and Dionne’s voices. Dionne’s voice is nice and polite while Aretha’s voice is huge, powerful but without screaming that’s typical of current singers that think they have a “big voice”. Aretha was a complete natural.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Raleighwood Dawg

    May the Queen rest in eternal peace.
    I’ll continue to enjoy her voice and music.


  10. Another show that was just beyond great. She could belt them out.


  11. 86BONE

    Check out ‘Jam in a Jar’…The Godfather & The Queen!!