The title of the song I choose is “Respect”. Otis Redding was originally the first to write and record the song “Respect” in 1965. His version even hit number 35 on the US charts. Aretha Franklin re-recorded the song but with her own twist and released it on April 29th in 1967. Her version of the song is much more popular and widely known. The song was never intended for her or any women in fact. His lyrics are about a desperate man who is pretty much begging a woman to give him respect when he brings money home and he doesn’t care if she treats him wrong. Aretha Franklin’s version of “Respect” has a completely different meaning. Her lyrics are about a confident woman who demands respect because she knows she deserves it. She made the new arrangement and played piano on the track while her sister sang backup and helped her recreate the song.
The historical events that were going on around the time that Franklin released the song is very relevant to what the song is about. The civil rights act was recently passed in 1964, before the song was released and resistance of the change from the north and south often turned to violence. This song was significant to the black community and the demand for the respect that they deserve. This was also around the time that women began fighting for gender equality. Many human rights activists were protesting at this time.
I choose “Respect” because of every aspect of the song. The lyrics of the song are about a strong and confident woman who knows her worth and is demanding the respect that she knows she needs. The lyrics “what you need, do you know I got it” clearly show that she knows her value and not to mention that she’s the one who makes money and can provide. She also states in the song that if she doesn’t get the respect that she’s demanding, he will find her gone. Her voice is powerful and strong which influenced many women in music. The melody is uplifting which fits the confident feeling that the song brings.
The riff is played on a guitar along with horns which brings the uplifting rhythm. Franklin shouts multiple times with “oohs” from the backup singers which makes the song more intense. She spells out respect with stoptime in between. There is a sax solo with horn chords featured that brings a new harmonic pattern. The timbre is clear and vibrant. “Sock it to me” is a lyric in the song that is repeated several times with a call-and-response which fades out. Aretha is the lead voice but has female backup singers who repeat “just a little bit”.
After learning more deeply about the song, its meaning has become more important to me and what the song stands for. I see it as a symbol of confidence and strength for everyone. My perspective on music has strengthened after learning about this song because it has helped me understand the deeper meanings of other songs and music. I’ve always appreciated different types of music and the beauty of music but this course has made me appreciate it on more broad of a scale. Especially learning about the history of the various genres, artists, and songs.
The song was featured in the top 500 songs in Rolling Stones magazine. The fact that the song was sung by Aretha Franklin makes it even more special because of the extraordinary person that she is and the obstacles that she has overcome. Some of her achievements include becoming the most charted female ever, the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and receiving the presidential medal of freedom. When Aretha Franklin was asked why she believes the song was so successful, she explained that “everyone wants to be respected”. I believe the song’s meaning goes beyond just a woman demanding respect from her lover, even though that is also important, but I believe it stands for everyone and the respect they deserve. It is a symbol of self worth, confidence, and strength. It is a song that can inspire everyone around the world.