Thanks to Under Cover: Showdown Edition1 by Mona Sheikh, a contributor at PopWreckonin, I was reminded that Aretha Franklin’s signature song, Respect, is a cover, albeit a much altered one, of a song first popularized by Otis Redding.2
Otis Redding – Respect
reached the top five on Billboard’s Black Singles Chart. The song even crossed over to pop radio’s white audience, peaking at number thirty-five there. At the time, the song became Redding’s second largest crossover hit (after “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”) …
This live version of Otis Redding performing Respect delivers such a devastating visceral impact that it is hard to believe that Aretha’s cover, regardless of her mastery of the song, has flooded our culture’s awareness to the point that Redding’s original is scarcely known outside the circles of soul music connoisseurs. (Listen in the introduction to Redding’s wry comment about “that little girl” [Aretha Franklin} that stole his song.)
Update: The Redding performance of Respect referenced above is no longer available; the best substitute I can find lacks both that version’s introductory comment about Aretha Franklin and its evocative quality.
Aretha Franklin – Respect
Aretha’s 1967 version of Respect, which doubles as a hymn to feminism, is so well known that there is little to add that isn’t superfluous. So, just enjoy the performance.
- Under Cover: Showdown Edition includes more commentary on Respect and discussions of two other covers that are considered by some the equal of the original songs. It’s well worth the reading and listening [↩]
- That Aretha covered Otis Redding’s Respect is one of those random facts I learn, only to reliably forget, every couple of years. I look forward to enjoying the next rediscovery of this in two or three years. [↩]
- Almost all of Otis Redding’s best selling repertoire – with the notable exception of (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, recorded only three days before Redding’s death – were pleas of one sort or another [↩]