The Deeper Meaning Behind Aretha Franklin's "Think"

Aretha Franklin in 1968
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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The list of legendary Aretha Franklin recordings is long and hardly definitive - but one that's close to our hearts is "Think," which The Queen of Soul recorded on April 15, 1968 and released later that year.

"Think" marks a unique statement in Franklin's career. It's one of a few big hit songs that she wrote herself, alongside then-husband and manager Ted White. The verses detail an attempted love affair between two parties - one of which knew the other from a young age - and cautioning against bad behavior like "playin' games and takin' scores." There may be a deeper meaning in the song's repeated refrain of "Freedom": civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated weeks before the recording, and Aretha entered the studio session shortly after attending his funeral.

Read More: Aretha Franklin Scored a "Drive-By" Hit with "Natural Woman"

As the lead single from Aretha Now, "Think" kept Aretha burning up the charts. It was her seventh Top 10 hit released in just over a year, reaching No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the magazine's soul charts. It remained a staple of Franklin's cherished catalog, revisited twice in the '80s: once in a scintillating performance in the 1980 musical comedy The Blues Brothers, and again as a pumped-up dance track on 1989's Through the Storm.

Read More: How Aretha Franklin Made "Respect" Her Own

The Genius of Aretha Franklin, featuring "Think" and 14 other songs, is now available on CD from Rhino Records. SoulMusic.com readers can get 20% off at Rhino.com with the promo code "ARETHA20."

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