For all the wonderful music Aretha Franklin gave us, I know it's crazy for me to say what might have been. But I look at the six long years prior to signing with Atlantic, where Columbia Records and Mitch Miller IMO mishandled her career. She was recording mostly standards and that wonderful, powerful voice was muted.
She had 20 chart entries on Columbia. 12 made the Hot 100, and 8 bubbled under. The only one that reached the Top 40 was her version of "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody" her second charting single. It peaked at #37.
Thankfully, Atlantic had an idea on how to build a legend. As Aretha said succinctly, "They made me sit at the piano, and the hits came". Atlantic showcased her vocal prowess and mastery of the keyboards, whereas Columbia drowned her in lush orchestration.
Can you imagine the hits she might have had working with the Muscle Shoals crew, or even Booker T and the MGs in the early and mid 60s?
It was said that when Otis Redding first heard Aretha's version of his song "Respect", his reaction was that it was no longer his. Aretha owns it now. Otis's version is a great song, but Aretha made it her signature.
Her interpretations of "Natural Woman", "Eleanor Rigby", "I Say A Little Prayer", and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" are worthy companions to the original versions, yet unique in their own way.
Wishing Aretha peace as she reaches her final resting place, and thanking the Queen of Soul for music that will delight, entertain, and empower generations to come.
Elton John made his debut in the Top 40 on December 18, 1970 when "Your Song" entered at #38.
Debuting one notch higher and peaking at #37 was Aretha's version of Elton John's first chart entry. Elton's original had peaked at #92 four months earlier.
Found out as I walked into work this morning; incredibly sad day for the music world. Was just listening to "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)", and strange knowing how both artists are gone.
Aretha, thank you for sharing your incredible talent with us for so many years. We'll miss you.
My favorite Aretha song.
She was a singular talent and a great humanitarian. She influenced a wide array of artists, both male and female. She was the first female to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and no other female has charted with more songs (112 at last count). She will live on through the myriad of charities she contributed to. A very sad day for anyone who loves music -- R&B, pop, gospel, blues, disco. She did it all.
Aretha had an incredible run of hits from 1967-1974; and one strange thing for me is that I am currently working on the Cash Box Top 100 of 1968, where she had 3 songs on the year end chart.
May we all enjoy the music she left us as she Rests in Peace.
At the risk of overtrivializing her passing, here's an Aretha chart fact. By 1974, she had become the first artist ever in Billboard chart history to peak at every position from #1 through #10 with at least one song. Marvin Gaye and Madonna were the next two to pull it off. Here's the full rundown (thanks to our good friend, Joel Whitburn):
#1..."Respect", "I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)" #2..."Chain of Fools", "Spanish Harlem" #3..."Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)", "Freeway of Love" #4..."Baby I Love You" #5..."(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone", "Day Dreaming" #6..."The House That Jack Built", "Bridge over Troubled Water" #7..."Think", "Who's Zoomin' Who" #8..."(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" #9..."I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)", "Rock Steady" #10..."I Say a Little Prayer"
I'm reading all these posts about Aretha and everybody is mentioning different songs that were their favorites. I'm more a fan of her later stuff (Who's Zoomin' Who, Freeway Of Love, I Knew You Were Waiting) but the conclusion is everybody loved her music, and she had a song for everyone and every type of person.
Just got the tragic news we lost the Queen Of Soul. There is no royalty left as she joins the King of Rock and Roll, King Of Pop, and the Godfather of Soul in the great beyond.
We are running out of legends as the current generation doesn't measure up.
Rest in Peace, Aretha.
You know, this comment really bummed me out for a minute. I decided to listen to local AC radio for an hour and it kind of cheered me up. First song was by Adele. Adele is definitely the heir to the Queen of Soul's crown. That was followed by Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Andy Grammer, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Train, Jason Mraz, Michael Buble, and Keith Urban over the next hour. The current generation isn't so bad, and plenty of talented artists are making something of the current times.
Rest in Peace Aretha. Freeway of Love and I Knew You Were Waiting are my top two favorites. I also love how Steely Dan sang in "Hey 19" about the newer generation not remembering the Queen of Soul...although it's not true. We will always remember!