For better or for worse, we are living in the cinematic age of the music biopic. Some of them have been great, then there are others like Starman, which currently lingers with its poultry review scores forevermore.
Based on the latest trailer for the forthcoming Aretha Franklin feature, there is more than enough hope that it might be a goodie. Unsurprisingly, the title shares its name with the stars biggest hit, ‘Respect’.
Although the track may not have been written by Franklin herself, it represents so much about her trailblazing ways. When she became the first woman admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the singer was described as “the voice of the civil rights movement, the voice of black America” and a “symbol of black equality”.
This was a motion of respect is one that she lived her life by. When it came to relationships, she declared: “The man who gets me is getting one hell of a woman.” And when came to her achievements, she proclaimed: “Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.”
However, the gift that got her there was her booming voice. She famously could “make anything sound good,” and Keith Richards joins a crowded room of people who have championed her as the greatest singer of all time. As is clear from the thunderous clip below, she was even better live. She has an uncanny knack of laying all on the line without a hair falling out of place, remaining somehow understated and completely riotous at the same time.
For this classic track, Lady Soul took Otis Redding’s original number and flipped it on its head. While Redding’s take was a desperate plea from an ageing man, asking his woman to stay with him no matter what. Otis was happy for her to do him wrong as long as when he brings home the money she gives him some respect. Franklin, however, even back in 1967, took on the role of a confident and empowered woman and completely changed the context, turning it into a feminist anthem. Instead, she demands respect as she knows that not only has she got everything he wants but that she won’t do him wrong.
This scintillating version below comes from her performance at the Warwick Memorial Theatre back on November 16th, 1967, and it’s as rousing as they come.