♫ You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman ♫

I had a song picked out for tonight … one that was originally sung by Aretha Franklin, then later recorded by Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were, but I discovered I had played that one back in March.  But, by then I had Aretha on my mind … that woman could flat out sing!  It seemed as if her voice was penetrating my mind, so I went in search of something ‘Aretha’ that I haven’t already played, and this is what I came up with …

This was written by 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.

Regarding the origins of this song, in 2008 Ode Records owner Lou Adler, who worked closely with King and Goffin remembers …

“Last year 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.”

The version I’m playing tonight is from 2015 when Aretha performed the song in a tribute to Carole King at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors where she literally brought the house down.  In attendance were then-President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle.

Ms. Franklin would die some three years later, on 06 August 2018, and the world lost one of the greatest singers of all time, at least in this writer’s opinion.

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
Aretha Franklin

Looking out on the morning rain
I used to feel so uninspired
And when I knew I had to face another day
Lord, it made me feel so tired
Before the day I met you, life was so unkind
But you’re the key to my peace of mind

‘Cause you make me feel
You make me feel
You make me feel like
A natural woman (woman)

When my soul was in the lost and found
You came along to claim it
I didn’t know just what was wrong with me
‘Til your kiss helped me name it
Now I’m no longer doubtful, of what I’m living for
And if I make you happy I don’t need to do more

‘Cause you make me feel
You make me feel
You make me feel like
A natural woman (woman)

Oh, baby, what you’ve done to me (what you’ve done to me)
You make me feel so good inside (good inside)
And I just want to be, close to you (want to be)
You make me feel so alive

You make me feel
You make me feel
You make me feel like
A natural woman (woman)

You make me feel
You make me feel
You make me feel like a natural woman (woman)

You make me feel
You make me feel

Songwriters: Gerry Goffin / Carole King / Jerry Wexler
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ When A Man Loves A Woman ♫

cute-beeSomething I wrote either last night or the night before about the song of the day made reference to Percy Sledge, and hence … I’ve had this song buzzing around in my head like a bee in a field of clover.

There are a couple of interesting things in the backstory to this song.  First, this song is a huge part of music history, as it is the first #1 Hot 100 hit recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones and many other famous musicians would later record some of their classic songs.

Second, is the dispute over who actually wrote the song.  Percy Sledge claims that he actually wrote the song one night when he was so upset over a woman that, while performing with The Esquires Combo, he was overcome with emotion and asked the band to play a slow blues backing – any key, their choice – to which he could sing.  The band started to play and Sledge vented in song for about six minutes.

In Sledge’s story, Quin Ivy was at the show and approached the band about polishing the song and recording it. Sledge says he worked on the lyrics with Lewis and Wright, and recorded it at Norala Sound with Ivy producing …

“When I wrote the song at first, it was called ‘Why Did You Leave Me Baby.’ And I changed it from that to ‘When a Man Loves a Woman.’ I just reversed it. Quin told me that if I was to write some lyrics around that melody and the expression I’d put into ‘Why Did You Leave Me Baby,’ he believed it would’ve been a hit record. He was one of the top disc jockeys at that time. Sure enough, he asked me if I had any lyrics for that. He said, “That’s it! Write a story around that title! What a song that would be with that feeling you had!” It was a song that was meant to be. It wasn’t just what I had done; it was the musicians, the producer, the background singers, the right time.”

But, according to Andrew Wright …

“We were set to play a Friday night dance, and we were practicing … I was messing around on the organ when this riff came up out of nowhere. There was no one in the club but us. I told Calvin to go home and write some words.”

According to SongFacts …

In Sledge’s version of the story, he co-wrote the song with his bandmates Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright, but let them have sole composer credits, since they gave him the opportunity to sing his heart out. Whether Sledge was acting out of the goodness of his heart or had nothing to do with writing the song is a matter of debate, but the writing credit had huge implications, resulting in a windfall for Lewis and Wright, who get the royalties every time it is played. Since the song went on to be covered by many artists, they get paid for those as well. If it was a goodwill gesture by Sledge, it cost him millions of dollars.

Who knows?  Percy Sledge died in April 2015, at the age of 73, so we will likely never know quite how this song came to be.  It was later recorded by Michael Bolton, among others, but I remain partial to the Percy Sledge version.

When a Man Loves a Woman
Percy Sledge

When a man loves a woman
Can’t keep his mind on nothing else
He’ll trade the world
For the good thing he’s found
If she’s bad he can’t see it
She can do no wrong
Turn his back on his best friend
If he put her down

When a man loves a woman
Spend his very last dime
Trying to hold on to what he needs
He’d give up all his comfort
Sleep out in the rain
If she said that’s the way it ought to be

Well, this man loves a woman
I gave you everything I had
Trying to hold on to your precious love
Baby, please don’t treat me bad

When a man loves a woman
Down deep in his soul
She can bring him such misery
If she plays him for a fool
He’s the last one to know
Loving eyes can’t ever see

When a man loves a woman
He can do no wrong
He can never own some other girl
Yes when a man loves a woman
I know exactly how he feels
‘Cause baby, baby, baby, you’re my world

When a man loves a woman

Songwriters: Andrew James Wright / Calvin Houston Lewis
When a Man Loves a Woman lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

♫ Let It Be ♫

At the time of its release in 1970, this Beatles tune had the highest debut on the Billboard Hot 100, beginning its chart run at number 6. It was written and sung by Paul McCartney and was their final single before McCartney announced his departure from the band.

McCartney said he had the idea of Let It Be after he had a dream about his mother during the tense period surrounding the sessions for The Beatles aka the White Album in 1968. According to McCartney, the song’s reference to “Mother Mary” was not biblical. McCartney explained that his mother – who died of cancer when he was fourteen – was the inspiration for the “Mother Mary” lyric. He later said: “It was great to visit with her again. I felt very blessed to have that dream. So that got me writing ‘Let It Be’.” He also said in a later interview about the dream that his mother had told him, “It will be all right, just let it be.”

Now here’s something I didn’t know. According to Songfacts …

The Beatles weren’t the first to release this song – Aretha Franklin was. The Queen of Soul recorded it in December 1969, and it was released on her album This Girl’s In Love With You in January 1970, two months before The Beatles released their version (she also covered The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” on that album).

Aretha recorded it with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who were a group of musicians that owned their own studio in Alabama, but would travel to New York to record with Aretha. David Hood, who was their bass player, told us that Paul McCartney sent demos of the song to Atlantic Records (Franklin’s label) and to the Muscle Shoals musicians. Said Hood, “I kick myself for not grabbing that demo. Because I think they probably dropped it in the garbage. Our version was different. We changed it a little bit from his demo, where their version is different from that demo and from Aretha’s version, as well. Just slightly, but little things.”

A few other bits of trivia:

  • Sesame Street used this with the title changed to “Letter B.” The lyrics were changed to list words that begin with B.
  • The album had the largest initial sales in US record history up to that time: 3.7 million advance orders.
  • This was the first Beatles song released in The Soviet Union. The single made it there in 1972.
  • This song was played at Linda McCartney’s funeral.
  • This was the first Beatles song released in the Soviet Union. The single made it there in 1972.
  • John Legend and Alicia keys performed this song on the tribute special The Beatles: The Night That Changed America, which aired in 2014 exactly 50 years after the group made their famous appearance on Ed Sullivan Show. Legend introduced it as “a song that has comforted generations with its beauty and its message.”

Something else I didn’t know comes from The Vintage News site …

In July 1966 the Beatles toured the Philippines and unintentionally snubbed First Lady Imelda Marcos. Accustomed to high praise if not worship, she invited the group to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace in Manila, expecting the group to attend without hesitation. When the Beatles were presented with the invitation, however, they asked their manager, Brian Epstein, to politely decline it on behalf of the group, with an explanation that it had never been their policy to accept such “official” invitations.

Soon after, the band realized that the Marcos regime had rarely heard “no” from anyone–and there would be consequences. Imelda Marcos was infuriated when she found out that her grand planned party of 200 guests would not include the Beatles as special guests. Interestingly enough, the Philippine television and radio stations broadcast the snub. Shortly after, all of the Beatles security police suddenly disappeared. Epstein called for an interview, trying to make an apology on Chanel 5 at the Manila Hotel. But when his interview was about to be aired, the state-controlled channel blacked out.

Let It Be
The Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
Let It Be lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

PLEASE — More Respect, Less Hate

No matter which side of the partisan divide you are on, which side of the Trump coin you prefer, I think the one thing we can all agree on is that the two years of the Trump presidency has been the most divisive of any in the history of this nation, perhaps with the exception of the Civil War era, but I’m not even certain of that.  It has absolutely been the most divisive in my lifetime and that of anyone reading this post.

This post is not about Donald Trump … I have made my feelings about him clear in enough other posts … but rather it is about the hatred and divisiveness that people on both sides of the equation are engaging in and that is leading us down a path of destruction.  What brought this about and why now, considering that I have written no less than six past posts with the word “Respect” in the title?  A number of things, but it began with this headline …

High school basketball team pulls out of game after controversy over fans with Trump sign

It happened last week in Minnesota, where the Roosevelt High School basketball team visited Jordan High School for a game.  Roosevelt players are predominantly black, while Jordan players are predominantly white, and Jordan fans decided to fly this flag …trump flagIt’s high school, folks!  High school sports, for Pete’s sake!  Granted, some of these young people will be able to vote in the next election, and it’s a good thing for them to study civics, to learn about our government and the people in it, but it is not a good thing for them to bring political icons into high school sporting events.  The upshot is that now, Jordan High School has canceled yesterday’s scheduled game against Patrick Henry High School for one of two stated reasons: a) they feared something might happen to their players in retaliation for the flag incident, or b) the team did not want its presence at the event “to detract from the athletes”.  Whichever reason, it does not matter … what matters is that sports is supposed to teach young people sportsmanship, teamwork, cooperation … it is supposed to bring positive things into kids’ lives, not hate, not racism and bigotry.

What’s next … kindergarten kids wearing those red hats and beating up other kids because they look different?

Here are two examples I found on Education Week’s website:

  • Three swastikas were scrawled on the note found in the girls’ restroom, along with a homophobic comment and a declaration: “I Love Trump.”
  • Found inside the backpack of a Latina student, a note that said: Go back to Mexico.

These incidents took place at Council Rock High School in a predominately white suburb of Philadelphia.

Education Week and others have partnered with non-profit news organization ProPublica in a project called Documenting Hate, in an attempt to understand how hate, intolerance, and bias are affecting school climate and impacting students and their educators.  Take a look at some of the incidents they have reported on … I think you will be appalled.

No matter whether you love him or hate him, nobody can deny that Trump’s rhetoric and policies have been laden with bigotry … xenophobic, racist, homophobic and misogynist.  BUT … that does not give any of us the right to act upon his rhetoric.  Freedom of Speech is one of the core principles guiding our society, our lives, but as with any and every right, it comes with responsibility.  When we ignore the responsibility, then we risk losing the right … it’s that simple.

So, you have the right to march in peaceful protest, but you do not have the right to call the police on somebody swimming in the pool at your apartment complex just because their skin is darker than yours.  You do not have the right to yell racial slurs at people in public. That is bigotry.  You have the right to attend a Trump rally … or a Clinton rally … and wear whichever hat or shirt you deem appropriate, but if you wear that hat to a bar, a sporting event or the grocery store, you are doing it only to annoy those who don’t agree with you, and you do not have that right.

beliefsYou have the right to raise your children in whatever faith you choose, but you do not have the right to teach them to hate those who don’t believe as you do.  You have a right to support Donald Trump, but you do not have the right to make obscene gestures and utter hate speech in front of national television cameras.  It all boils down to one simple word that apparently too many people in this nation have forgotten: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Write me off as a friend if you wish, but do not threaten my life.

flesh-crayonsAnd most of all, folks of both parties, please do not teach your children to hate.  Teach them to accept and tolerate everyone, regardless of skin colour, race, religion, gender, gender identification, ethnicity or party affiliation.  If you cannot tolerate someone, then stay away, leave them alone … you do not have the right to hate and hurt others and you do not have the right to turn your children into hate-mongering little people.

♫ Bridge Over Troubled Water ♫

Did you know that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel met in grade school when they both appeared in a production of Alice in Wonderland. Paul was the White Rabbit and Art was the Cheshire Cat.  They began recording together in high school as Tom and Jerry — yes, as in the cartoon cat and mouse.

Simon and Garfunkel split up in 1970, and Garfunkel went on to become a math teacher at a private school in Connecticut.

The album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, was the last the duo recorded together before their breakup, and it remains, to this day, the biggest selling album ever for Columbia Records.  Paul wrote the title song, although Art Garfunkel sang it alone.  It was one of the few songs to top the US and UK charts at the same time. It was #1 in the US for six weeks, #1 in the UK for three.

In 1971, this won five Grammy Awards: Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Contemporary Song, Best Engineered Record, and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists. The album also won Album of the Year.  Just about everybody and their brother has tried to jump on this bandwagon with a recording of their own, including Elvis Presley, Mary Blige & Andrea Bocelli, and Aretha Franklin.

In June 2017, a charity version was recorded by Artists For Grenville, a group comprising 50 well-known British vocalists and musicians. They were collected together by Simon Cowell to record a charity single to raise money for the families of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017. The song immediately climbed to #1 on the UK singles chart.

Bridge over Troubled Water
Simon & Garfunkel

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all (all)
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you (ooo)
I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Songwriters: Paul Simon
Bridge over Troubled Water lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Hearts Are Breaking, The Beloved Aretha Franklin Has Passed At 76

Today, the world lost a great talent, but she left us a beautiful legacy that will live on forever. Friend Gronda has made a perfectly beautiful tribute to this fantastic lady, and I wish to share it with you today. Thank you, Gronda.

Gronda Morin

I became a fan a little later in her career, when she had that iconic role in the “Blues Brothers,” a movie I do watch about once a year.

She’s a beloved soul singer, talent extraordinaire who’s voice is instantly recognizable by anyone who loves music.

I’m grieving for a major loss to a talent who made a difference in this world.

Here is the rest of the story…

On August 16, 2018, BBC News published the following report, “Aretha Franklin, ‘Queen of Soul’, dies aged 76″

“Aretha Franklin, the “queen of soul” known for hits like Respect and Think, has died in Detroit at the age of 76.”

The legendary singer was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and announced last year she was retiring from music.

“Franklin had more than 20 US number ones over a career spanning seven decades.”

“She gave her final performance last November at…

View original post 499 more words

♫ R.E.S.P.E.C.T. ♫

I had another song planned for tonight, but when I heard that Aretha Franklin is seriously ill and not likely to live much longer, I knew I had to do this one tonight.  There are a lot of great singers in the world, but I know of none with a voice as powerful as Aretha’s.

From The Washington Post

It was Valentine’s Day 1967 when Aretha Franklin sat down at a piano in the Atlantic Records studio in New York and recorded “Respect.”

The Queen of Soul, now gravely ill, took the song written and first recorded by Otis Redding and made it her own, transforming it into what would become an anthem for the civil rights movement and for the women’s movement.

“Respect” became a soundtrack for the 1960s. Franklin, then just 24 years old, infused it with a soulful and revolutionary demand, a declaration of independence that was unapologetic, uncompromising and unflinching.

The song was a demand for something that could no longer be denied. She had taken a man’s demand for respect from a woman when he got home from work and flipped it. The country had never heard anything like it.

“Aretha shattered the atmosphere, the aesthetic atmosphere,” Peter Guralnick, author of “Sweet Soul Music,” told The Washington Post in 1987, on the 20th anniversary of the song. “She set a new standard which, in some way, no one else could achieve.”

When Franklin’s version of “Respect” was released in April 1967, it soared to No. 1 on the charts and stayed there for at least 12 weeks.

“Respect” would become an anthem for the black-power movement, as symbolic and powerful as Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”

The song caught on with the black-power movement and feminists and human rights activists across the world. Its appeal remains powerful. In the last year, it has become a symbol of the #MeToo movement.

A toast to Aretha Franklin … 🥂

Aretha Franklin

What you want
Baby, I got it
What you need
Do you know I got it
All I’m askin’
Is for a little respect when you get home (just a little bit)
Hey baby (just a little bit) when you get home
(Just a little bit) mister (just a little bit)

I ain’t gonna do you wrong while you’re gone
Ain’t gonna do you wrong cause I don’t wanna
All I’m askin’
Is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit)
Baby (just a little bit) when you get home (just a little bit)
Yeah (just a little bit)
I’m about to give you all of my money
And all I’m askin’ in return, honey
Is to give me my propers
When you get home (just a, just a, just a, just a)
Yeah baby (just a, just a, just a, just a)
When you get home (just a little bit)
Yeah (just a little bit)
Ooo, your kisses
Sweeter than honey
And guess what?
So is my money
All I want you to do for me
Is give it to me when you get home (re, re, re ,re)
Yeah baby (re, re, re ,re)
Whip it to me (respect, just a little bit)
When you get home, now (just a little bit)

Find out what it means to me
Take care, TCB
Oh (sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)
A little respect (sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)
Whoa, babe (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)
I get tired (just a little bit)
Keep on tryin’ (just a little bit)
You’re runnin’ out of fools (just a little bit)
And I ain’t lyin’ (just a little bit)
(Re, re, re, re) when you come home
(Re, re, re ,re) ‘spect
Or you might walk in (respect, just a little bit)
And find out I’m gone (just a little bit)
I got to have (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)

Songwriters: Otis Redding
Respect lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group