We’re digging into the Far Out Magazine vault to pay close attention to Lady Soul, Aretha Franklin, and her impeccable vocal on the classic equal rights anthem ‘Respect’.
Released on this day in 1967, there are few songs that find it so easy to make people sing than Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’. The singer may well be one of the most influential vocalists of all time, but here on her equal rights anthem, Franklin invites us all to sing along with her.
We’d wager that if you walked into any room and sang “R-E-S-P-E-C-T!” you would get an almost instant response from your (possibly unwilling) audience of “Find out what it means to me!” Such is the universal appeal of Franklin’s song, which was released on April 29th, 1967. While of course, Franklin’s version of the song is, in fact, a cover, it is, without doubt, the definitive version of the song and deserves its recognition as such.
Otis Redding’s original track was a desperate plea from an ageing man, asking his woman to stay with him no matter what. He’s happy for her to do him wrong as long as when he brings home the money she gives him some respect. Franklin, even back in 1967, took the track and turned it on its head.
Franklin took on the role of a confident and empowered woman and completely changed the context of the track. Instead, she demands respect as she knows that not only has she got everything he wants but that she won’t do him wrong. Not only did Franklin make this game-changing adjustment but she also implemented the notorious “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” chorus, as well as adding the backing vocalists lyrics of “Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me.”
Both of which can be heard clear as day in the newly unearthed isolated vocals of the track. More of an extraction rather than an isolation, Franklin’s declaration for the feminist movement is given extra power when her vocal is left alone.
Within it, she not only displays the power and presence which would earn her legend status and rightful moniker as Lady Soul but also encourage others to sing along with her. Above all else, ‘Respect’ is a song for the people, designed to capture hearts and get feet moving at the same time.
Below listen to Aretha Franklin’s isolated vocals on ‘Respect’ and hear her power.