6 Aretha Franklin Essentials

Member for

3 years 4 months
Yes! I Want to discover more artists like [ARTIST NAME].
Submitted by karajayne on

6 Aretha Franklin Essentials

aretha franklin
Aretha Franklin. Photo by Stephen Paley/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.

Aretha Franklin’s Respect is one of the most ubiquitous songs on the planet, confirmed by Rolling Stone Magazine – which placed it number one on their updated list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time last year. 

While there’s no denying the status of Aretha’s searing 1967 gospel power anthem, Respect is just one of many shining moments in the iconic singer’s catalogue. So, here are six Aretha Franklin essentials, that aren’t Respect.

1. 'I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)'

The title track from Aretha’s tenth studio album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, was the first big hit of her career, cracking the top ten of the US pop charts for the very first time. The powerful blues wailer foreshadowed The Queen of Soul’s mastery of melding R&B and pop into urgent hits, confirmed by her delivery of Respect straight after. 

2. 'Chain of Fools'

Chain of Fools, written in 1953 by R&B singer Don Covay, was a massive hit for Aretha, climbing to number two on the US pop chart and number one on the R&B chart, also in 1967. In 1969, Chain of Fools won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Performance – a category that had only been introduced one year earlier in 1968 and won by Franklin for the first eight years running! 

3. 'Rock Steady'

Only a few years later, in 1971, Aretha released her 18th studio album, Young, Gifted and Black with "a funky track about grooving to the music" called Rock Steady. The self-penned track came together in a Miami studio with a little help from her famous friends, including soul legend Donny Hathaway who played the organ and R&B session star Dr. John on percussion.

4. 'A Change is Gonna Come'

Aretha made this Sam Cooke original her own in 1967. Accompanying herself on piano, she introduces the song with a heartfelt mantra to Cooke, who died in 1964, saying, “There’s an old friend that I once heard say/ something that touched my heart/ And it began this way,” before delivering the song like tour de force.

5. 'Think'

1968 single, Think was a collaborative effort between Aretha and her then husband, producer Ted White. Originally appearing on her Aretha Now album, the song continued her hot streak on the charts, becoming her seventh top ten single in the U.S., and sixth to reach number one on the R&B chart. 

Following an acrimonious split from White, Aretha re-recorded the song in 1980 for the Blues Brothers soundtrack and gave a stellar live performance in a now-legendary scene from the classic film (above).

6. '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman'

Another career-defining single arriving from 1967! (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman was co-written by songwriting great Carole King and her partner Gerry Goffin. It is one of Franklin’s signature songs, as empowered by its unapologetic vulnerability. Although she didn't write this one, as with anything in Aretha’s hands, she made it an anthem. 

The ARETHA collection features 81 newly remastered tracks, including alternate versions of classic hits, demos, rarities, and live tracks, like her stunning performance of (You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman at The 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in 2015. 

Aretha Franklin | ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’ [Kennedy Centre Awards, 2015]

Putting Franklin’s life and career into perspective, the collection is accompanied by liner notes written by Rochelle Riley, author and director of arts and culture for the City of Detroit, and David Nathan, a music journalist and soul historian who interviewed Franklin more times than any other living writer. Get ARETHA on CD and vinyl, here. 


aretha cd


Listen to Aretha Franklin on Spotify:

Listen to Aretha Franklin on Apple Music: 

Related Posts