TCB (Taking Care of Business): Aretha Franklin

Spelling never felt as sassy as it did when Aretha Franklin sang “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”. Franklin transformed the song into the hit that it deserved to be and that the original writer and singer of the song—Otis Redding—was unable to make it.

Redding couldn’t even argue with that. He once jokingly said that “Respect” was the song that “a girl took away from [him]”. Redding and Franklin’s tracks sound different from each other musically, but the biggest difference in the versions comes from the perspective change that Franklin created by adding a few key lines, and editing some of Redding’s. Check out the tunes and an example of a lyric change:

Otis Redding:
Hey little girl
You’re sweeter than honey
And I’m about to give you
All my money

Aretha Franklin:
Your kisses
Sweeter than honey
And guess what
So is my money

In the original version sung by Redding, the “respect” that is referred to is a euphemism for sex. Clearly this is not the case in Franklin’s version. She recorded the song in 1967, two years after Redding had, and in the middle of significant changes in the United States. “Respect” quickly became a landmark song for both the women’s right’s movement, and the civil right’s movement, and continues to be an empowering female anthem in an age where women are paid less than men, harassed regularly, and often looked as little more than a pretty face. If that doesn’t make you respect Ms. Franklin, I don’t know what will.

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