Aretha's "Respect" (multiple responses)

Fri, 26 Sep 1997 20:02:00 -0400


From: (James L. Wood)
Subject: Re: Aretha's "Respect"

Jama: The producer of it was on TV a few years ago, explaining how she had
expanded the original meaning of the song, etc. This might not be too hard
to track down.

>Anyone have an info (or secondary source suggestions) on the background
>to Aretha Franklin's "Respect" (intentions of the songwriter, role of the
>singer, reception)? Thanks.


From: Elizabeth Manny <>
Subject: Aretha Franklin - Respect

Lately, I've been pondering the feminist lyrics of '60's vocalist Lesley
Gore -- such as "It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To." At the
moment I can't recall her other hit songs, but I listen to them on my
favorite oldies station, and I can't fail to hear a real feminist slant.

Aretha's"Respect" could refer to feminism or to respect for the black
race...or whatever...take your pick. She is the daughter of one of
Detroit's most prominent preachers. What an incredible talent!
Another wonderful song -- a one hit wonder-- is Fontella Bass'
fabulous hit "Rescue Me." Also Gloria Gaynor's disco hit "I Will
Survive." This is another song with a strong feminist message (at
least to me).

Is it any coincidence that Lesley Gore has the same last name as our
vice-president, Al Gore? BTW, I DON'T think they are related. As far as
I know Lesley Gore was a nice upper-class girl from the NYC suburbs.
What's she up to now?? I believe her brother was also in the music
industry too.


From: Mark Bunster <>
Subject: Re: Aretha's "Respect"

The songwriter was none other than Macon, GA's Otis Redding in 1965. I don't
actually recall its appearance on the Stax/Volt box set Vol I, which
includes every A side of every single released by Stax/Volt from its
inception to the end of the distribution deal with Atlantic Records in
1970--which means it was likely a B-side to another single. An alternate,
much faster take, recorded in 1967 just before his death, can be found on
the _Remember Me_ retrospective on Fantasy Records.

I'm afraid I don't have any background on the genesis of the song. I do know
that Jim Stewart, one of the founders of Stax/Volt, decided not to sign a
beautiful young singer from Muscle Shoals, Alabama in the mid-60's. He
perhaps let her go to the Atlantic home label as a favor to Ahmet Ertegun,
for all Atlantic had done to build Stax/Volt as a powerhouse of R&B rivaled
only by Motown in the 60's.
That singer with the powerful voice? Of course--Aretha Franklin.

As much as I like the British Invasion and psychedelic rock of the 60's, not
enough attention is focused on R&B as the music of that time. I cannot
recommend the Stax/Volt box set enough--out of over 200 songs, there are
maybe a dozen duds within. Otis, Sam and Dave, Issac Hayes, Booker T and the
MGs, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, William Bell, and many others.

Mark Bunster *The only thing * you'll ever learn
Survey Research Lab *is just to love
VA. Commonwealth U. *and be loved in return.
Richmond, VA 23284 * --Nat Cole (vocal)
or try


Subject: Re: Aretha's "Respect"

According to Ed Ward et al's Rock of the Ages (Rolling Stone History of R&R),
"Respect" which was written by Otis Redding, "evolved from a conversation
between Redding and drummer Al Jackson, `We were speaking aboiut life in
general, the ups and downs and what have you,' Jackson said in a Rolling
Stone interview. `I said, What are you gripibng ab out, you're on the road all
the time, all you can look for is a little respect when you come home.' He
wrote the tune from our conversation. We laughed about it quite a few times.
In fact, Otis laughed about it all the way to the bank." p.341

Of Aretha Franklin's "cross-over" version, they note, it "soared to the top of
the pop and R&B charts; early in the summer of 1967 it was number one with
EVERYONE, and the album, I Never Loved a Man, also went gold.... THe
bestselling single, and most of the album, were secular R&B in content, but
their feel was straight out of Reb. C. L. Franklin's church. The singer's
emotions --grief, delight, pride,sorrow-beyond-measure yoked inextricably with
ecstasy-- were palpable in a way that made the also-rans on the charts seem
pallid and attenuated-- including the offerings from the label [Motown] that
had conclusively proved that black crossover was possible."

Ted Morgan

Department of Political Science
Maginnes Hall #9
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA 18015
phone: (610) 758-3345
fax: (610) 758-6554