♫ (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman ♫

There are times … oh yeah, there are times … when the music of Aretha Franklin just comes back and fills the head … with joy, with sorrow, with pain, but always with feeling.

This song was written by the legendary songwriting team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King.  They were a married couple who helped shape the Brill Building sound, named for the famous building in New York City where many hits from the ’60 were written and recorded. Ode Records owner Lou Adler, who worked closely with King and Goffin, said:

“Gerry Goffin is one of the best lyricists in the last 50 years. He’s a storyteller, and his lyrics are emotional. ‘Natural Woman,’ ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.’ These are perfect examples of situations, very romantic, almost a moral statement. Coming out of the 1950s, with the type of bubble gum music, and then in 1961, Gerry is writing about a girl who just might let a guy sleep with her and she wants to know, ‘is it just tonight or will you still love me tomorrow?’ Goffin could write a female lyric. If he could write the words to ‘Natural Woman,’ that’s a woman speaking. Gerry put those words into Carole’s mouth. He was a chemist before he was a full time lyricist. He’s very intelligent and obviously emotional.”

Regarding the origins of the song, Adler added:

“Last year (2007) I spoke to Jerry Wexler at his home in Florida, and he told me the story that Gerry was coming out of a building in New York, (Goffin now remembers it as an Oyster House), and Jerry Wexler is passing in a car, and yells out, ‘Why don’t you write a song called ‘Natural Woman’?’ They felt the title was so distinct and so important to the song that they gave him a piece of it. So, when I spoke to Jerry recently to call him on his 90th birthday, he said, ‘Isn’t it amazing what those kids gave me? The checks keep coming in and I’m really happy about it.’ Knowing how much he added to the song, not really as a third writer but the title and the inspiration of what was to be, a great song.”

Carole King recorded her own version of this song on her 1971 Tapestry album.

When Aretha Franklin performed this song in tribute to Carole King at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, she brought the house down, wowing King and the many luminaries present, including Barack and Michelle Obama. The crowd rose to its feet when Franklin shed her fur coat to belt out the end of the song.  And by the way, that was Carole King throwing kisses from the audience in the Kennedy Center.

I have chosen both the clip from the Kennedy Center and the official video, for both touch my heart in a way that few do.  Aretha Franklin … one of the greats of her time.  The sound quality isn’t as good on the Kennedy Center clip, but the emotional value is … oh man.  Watch then-President Obama wipe a tear from his eye and tell me that didn’t move you.

This one made it to #8 in the U.S. and #11 in Canada, but only #79 in the UK.

30 thoughts on “♫ (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman ♫

  1. O Jill, I can’t…. had to rewatch that video such was my sight obstructed by tears…. And those reactions; I don’t know Mrs King but boy, was I feeling what she expressed and felt! And Aretha Franklin was one of my first ‘discoveries’ in my young years, one of the first black singers too – me the Swiss ‘child’ living in Canada for < than 2 yrs. I was married then less than 2yrs and discovered such different music styles, singers I never heard of before, I learned about the harsh winters and incredible falls (autumns called over here). I took back with me a deep love for these über-talented, emotional, direct and enthousiastic artists, built-up an understanding of different world-views, ideas, and these short two years have had an influence on the rest of my life, largely spent abroad too.
    I only wish I still had those LPs with A.Franklin, D. Ross, Tina Turner, E. Fitzgerald, Mahalia Jackson, and on the lads' side my ears fell in love with Fats Domino, Ray Charles, O. Redding, Nat King Cole, and of course L. Armstrong. I could go on but haven't got the brain for it now.
    THIS was the cherry on my Wednesday Cake (28th July) – Thank you for a heart-warming post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know exactly what you mean! I was wiping away tears by the end of Aretha’s Kennedy Center performance! And I don’t cry easily! While the LPs and CDs may be gone, the good news is that we have the Internet where virtually ANY song and ANY artist can be heard free of charge as many times as we like! Oh yeah, the ones you name are the greats! My favourite of Louis Armstrong is Wonderful World and I’ve played it here at least twice! And Motown … I grew up on Motown and it’s still a favourite today. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill, this is a magnificent song sung by a magnificent talent. I had read that story in King’s autobipgraphy about Goffin/ King being asked through a rolled down car window to write the song, which they did that night. King noted that Franklin added her style to make the song even better. That Kennedy Honor performance was outstanding. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: (YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE) A NATURAL WOMAN — jilldennison.com | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  4. So many of the truly greats owe their starts to Gospel Singing traditions. I hope that never stops. Mahalia Jackson, Dionne Warwick and the Queen herself Aretha Franklin are irreplaceable but we may never see their like again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so right … while I’m not a fan of gospel music itself, the ones you mention were strongly influenced by it and I do love their music, especially Aretha Franklin’s. I also think you’re right that this brand of music will never make a resurgence, certainly not in our lifetime. I’m just thankful that we have their legacy and can listen to our heart’s content.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I only watched that show a few times in its early days, so I don’t recall this song or a person named Avery … but then, that was a long time ago and my 70-year-old brain has somewhat corroded since then! 😉


Comments are closed.