Aretha Franklin’s Music

Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” is one of the most influential songs in the feminist movement. The original version was performed by Otis Redding. The Franklin’s version moved to number one in both the R&B and pop charts. This song, thereafter, became her signature song. This song was very prominent up to a point that it was hailed as a civil rights and feminist anthem. The original Otis’ version of “Respect” (1965) was composed from the part of a husband in a desperate need of respect from his wife at the end of the day; in this case, “respect” is a euphemism for “the ages”. The man pleas for respect and vows he would give his wife anything she wants; he would even not care if she wrongs him as long as he gets due respect when coming home. The 1967 “Respect” version of Franklin was a modification of Otis’ 1965 version. In Franklin’s version, a man’s demands are turned into an anthem for empowering women. Here, a woman is declared strong and confident; she knows that she has everything her man wants. She never wrongs her husband and demands her “respect”. Aretha Franklin gave women a tool of their liberation in the form of a song.

“Hound Dog” is a blue song originally produced in 1952 by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton. After recording, it spent seven weeks on the R&B charts as well as became popular among many listeners. It contributed to the evolution of R&B into rock. Both the Elvis and Thornton’s version of “Hound Dog” fall under the style of classic blues since their presentation is less authentic, and their performance often involved someone’s accompaniment. In Elvis’ version of the “Hound Dog”, he repeated the lyrics more than in Big Mama’s version of the same song. In this way, Elvis was emphasizing how he was disappointed with his lover. Also, Thornton foregrounds the lyrics and carefully phrases the words in order to clarify the narrative of the song. Elvis, conversely, only makes the lyrics a melodic line. He adds vocal effects that change nothing in the story. These songs have impacted the world of music and music lovers including myself in that they were significant milestones in the revolution of blues into Rock & Roll. These versions of “Hound Dog” also epitomize how a musician can gain great fame and influence by just constituting a single song that influences the society. These versions also act as social documents reflecting the life and experiences of certain people at a particular moment in the history of America.

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Rock and roll is a genre of famous music that traces its origin and evolution to the America of the late 1940s and early 1950s. It originates from a mixture of genres like blues, jazz, and gospel music together with country music. The styles of the earliest rock and roll of the late 1940s and early 1950s were dominated either by a piano or saxophone being the major instruments. From the middle to the late 1950s, they were replaced by guitar. Black artists were the leading composers and performers of rock and roll music. Ruth Brown (1928-2006), for example, is credited with formulating the rock and roll sound. She did her recording under the R&B labels but was restricted from the rock charts by the industry. Other leading player in the genre of rock and roll is Memphis Minnie (1897-1973). She performed using an electric guitar and sung through a microphone. Minnie’s virtuous skills were legendary and made a huge impact on the genre of rock and roll music.

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