Since the ascension of Aretha Franklin in 2018, there has been an exciting emergence of young writers, researchers and archivists who have been working outside of the conventional outlets of label re-releases and academic books/articles to bring attention to their work and simultaneously bring some of the Queen’s classic performances into the public conversation. Andrew Martone’s work is a prime example of that.
Andrew’s passion for Aretha began in the beginning of 1998 when his father introduced him to the Queen’s classic Atlantic catalog by way of the 30 Greatest Hits compilation. “He put the CD in and said ‘I want you to listen to this. Tell me what you think.’ It activated something in me.” The timing was something like kismet, as in February of that year, the single, “A Rose Is Still A Rose” would be released, putting Aretha on the talk show circuit promoting her forthcoming full-length album. Andrew’s parents began recording her performances for him on VHS and soon he was seeing her in live performance whenever he could. He began building his massive archive then–even if he didn’t know it.
Andrew’s YouTube channel is a treasure trove of rare live performances, remixes and unreleased tunes that give fans insight into the care and thought the Queen put into every performance–planned or not. When Aretha died in 2018, Andrew began the massive 365 Days of Aretha website, challenging himself to write 365 articles about 365 Aretha songs. With his writing there, he reveals himself to be a close listener, drawing on both cultural history, Aretha’s history as well as the nuances of her performance to find the deeper significance of each recording.
“There’s so much work to do,” says Martone. He sees himself as a part of a contingency of writers and archivists each doing their part to raise the significance of her work. “I love when I see other people writing about her and I get to help to raise their work–because she warrants conversation!”
If you haven’t had a chance to explore 365 Days of Aretha, here are three of Andrew’s favorite articles thus far! They’re a good place to get started. Click the song title to read!
- Bridge Over Troubled Water”
There’s also something magical about how she delays her delivery of the melody. Instead of landing right on the notes, Aretha’s vocal follows the instrumentation. It creates a tug of war between anticipation and satisfaction that singing a song straight just can’t match.”
- You Light Up My Life”
Her delivery turns these previously ubiquitous, featherlight words into anvils, proving once again that the singer and the arrangement can make all the difference. Even her subtle changes resonate. The song’s opening line changes from “So many nights” to “So many days.” Though a seemingly minimal change, it expands the time spent longing from exclusively nights, to day and night. It’s deep and profound, this longing.”
- Bridge Over Troubled Water”
- My Way”
Her piano playing monopolizes the left side of the stereo recording from Atlantic Unearthed and though only emitting from one side, still manages to become the center of attention. As great as the strings are, it’s unjust to suppress Aretha’s piano playing like that.”
Tim Dillinger, Editorial Content Manager