Another great one gone, after a long, tough illness. I sometimes use a quote for these death notices—”May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest,” from Hamlet, if I remember right. But it’s most especially poignant in this case, because now that she’s joined the choir, Aretha Franklin will surely be handling all the lead lines from here on out.
Kinda spooky that the King of Rock and Roll and the Queen of Soul died on the same day, ain’t it?
Everybody knows “Respect,” of course, but this here is one of my own personal faves. The original version is great too, but this one is just so danged much fun. Note ye well, too, that this vid also features Matt “Guitar” Murphy, another legend we lost not long ago.
Rest ye well, Miz Franklin, and may God eternally bless you.
Update! Damned good obit from Kass:
The death of Aretha Franklin should remind us that great singers are more than just the soundtrack of our lives.
They lived their own lives, sang their own songs, but the thing is, it is through our own lives that we remember them, marking passages: The feel of the city on a hot night in August, that beautiful brown-eyed Sicilian girl in your car on the first date, smiling at you, the windows down, Aretha belting out “Chain of Fools.”
“I sing to the realists,” Franklin once said, “people who accept it like it is.”
And so, to be real about her passing, we know that recordings will save her voice for us. We can always find her when we need her. She’s just a click away.
But now that she’s quiet and gone, and the news is full of memories and the tributes flow and her greatest hits are playing, something happens. At least it happened to me, and if you loved her voice, maybe it happened to you.
Like a pin withdrawn from a wheel. It rolls and spins away.
A man I know who has made a success in the ruthless business of American popular music once told me that there are many great voices, but far fewer great writers.
“There are a million girls with great pipes,” he said. “But there aren’t a million songwriters who can write the music that you’ll always remember.”
Maybe so, but I think Aretha Franklin’s voice transcended all that. Hers was America’s voice, so fine, so strong, so female, a natural woman.
Amen to every word of it. Even wearing what my grandma called “house shoes” and a tatty old sweater—as in the vid above—she was nothing but pure class, and as fine as they come in every way that matters.