My Top Five Aretha Franklin Songs [Video]
The Queen of Soul passed away Thursday at the age of 76. She was called that for a reason. She could take any pop song and make it sound like a soulful gospel song.
I don't feel people under my age understand how dominant Aretha Franklin was in her day. Not only did she chart over 100 hits, but she was one of the best performers in her day at mastering the medium of television. She always knew where the camera was, and could look into it like she was staring directly at your soul and singing only to you.
So in no particular order, here are my five favorite Aretha performances.
I Say A Little Prayer For You (1968)
Hal David and Burt Bacharach have written some great songs, but David's lyrics about a woman on the home front praying for her soldier boyfriend in Vietnam (yes, that's what this song is about it, Google it) is one of the best. In this live TV performance, Aretha brings home the feeling, selling it with her facial expressions.
Bridge Over Troubled Water (1971)
Paul Simon has admitted that he has no idea where this song came from, hving popped into his head one day. But Aretha and her background band, The Sweet Inspirations, make it feel like it came directly from God. In article about the history of the song, The Independent noted that:
Paul Simon said, directly after its composition, that he could hear Aretha Franklin singing it and Franklin's 1971 recording (Aretha's Greatest Hits, Atlantic) makes a different kind of music altogether, hearing those gospel traces in the tune and lyrics and pursuing them hard.
'Think' from The Blues Brothers movie (1980)
Aretha stole this scene as the wife of Matt 'Guitar' Murphy, asking him to think before he runs off with the Blues Brothers. Aretha's don't tread on me attitude comes through big time in this scene.
Until You Come Back To Me (2005)
One of Aretha's biggest hits was written by another Michigander, Saginaw's Stevie Wonder back in 1967. He never released his version, and Aretha took a shot at it in 1973. It immediately went to number one on the soul charts and number three on the pop charts. Here the two Motown vets perform it live on Aretha's 2005 TV special, 'Lady of Soul'.
Amazing Grace (1972)
First and foremost, Aretha, despite all her pop and R&B success, was a Gospel singer. She honed her chops leading the choir at her famous father's (C.L.Franklin) church on Linwood Street in Detroit. She always respected where she came from and recorded many Gospel albums over the years. This was one of the best.