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. readers can get 20% off at with the promo code "ARETHA20."

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