Aretha Franklin’s song Respect and the wave of feminism it induced

Aretha Franklin

It’s not often that a moment in passing is credited as a fleeting trice of the soul. And when it’s the indomitable spirit of the Queen who personified the secularity of the soul through her music that is being tributed , it’s imperative that veneration be the norm.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul passed away on August 16 from pancreatic cancer and the death of this one particular singer, who crooned her life away in a numerous motley of soul stirring musical pursuits, undoubtedly marks an irreparable loss for the entire global realm of world music.

Source: Vox

In a five decade long career, Ms Franklin voiced numerous concerns in her songs, but perhaps none has been more prominent than her association with one of the most path breaking songs ever. Entitled Respect, this one song by the legendary musician catapulted her into the horizons of adulation of all those souls for whom feminism is a concept as vital as any other societal or cultural concern.

Interestingly, Respect was not Aretha’s original work, but a borrowing of the more famous song by Otis Redding that had been shaped from the male point of view. Ms Franklin not only rendered this song in its distinctive feminist tone but also presented a demand that seems more relevant and apt than any other womanistic claim ever.

Indeed, Respect was the need of a nation, as Aretha put it in her autobiography. And as an epitome of feminism and also to some extent of civil rights, Respect succeeding in appealing to all those souls who identified with Aretha’s version of women’s liberation and dignified existence.

The lyrics have a subtle intensity in its overtone, the underlying feel is highly sentimental and Aretha dished the melody out in her characteristic Gospel style, in a manner so evocative and a spirit so uplifting that Respect instantly became the anthem of the movement that sought to bring about liberation and impart dignity simultaneously.

However, Respect sought to play out not just the greater issue of women’s empowerment through its strong portrayal of feministic views; it was also Aretha’s own life struggles of yore that perhaps lends this iconic song more of the feel and emotion.

As a woman who had been in abusive relationships and who had her first child at the tender age of 12, Aretha obviously interpreted Respect as a means of claiming that dignity from the society which she very much deserved. More significantly, the song also marked the voice of numerous other women who had remained downtrodden to rely on a voice as powerful as Franklin’s to reclaim their proper identity and respect.

In Respect, Aretha delivered a song that wasn’t merely an appeal of the sentiment, it also was a massive mainstream hit, capturing the top spot at the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and fetching multiple Grammys for Franklin.

Respect also brought to fore Aretha as a genius political activist, apart from revealing the revolutionary of an artist Ms Franklin is. And in that the song still holds tremendous significance to this day only points to the enduring impact this lady had on a generation of influences.

It is only apt, therefore, that when Franklin passed away recently mourners returned to her iconic song Respect to delve into the deepest offerings of this remarkable personality and offer possibly the highest regard for her departed soul.

Source: Time

But in all the sentient that this song is interpreted with, Respect also appears to be a reference to a commonplace love affair, where the female have to ask for her rightful share of respect in the relationship even when she is financially independent and even monetarily supporting her partner. Perhaps that’s the whole notion of what Aretha was striving to drive home through the song that has now achieved the cult status.