November 1967: Aretha Franklin Links "Chain of Fools"

CIRCA 1967: Soul singer Aretha Franklin poses for a portrait in circa 1967. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

While the groundbreaking Lady Soul album wouldn't hit American record stores until January 1968, Aretha Franklin only heightened anticipation for the full-length with the release of the second advance single, "Chain of Fools," in November 1967.


Following the September '67 release of lead single, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," the second song from Lady Soul might as well have been its theme, according to Franklin's sister, Carolyn, to David Ritz, author of the controversial unauthorized Aretha Franklin biography, Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin. According to the Queen of Soul's sibling, the Don Covay-penned tune reflected her sister's tumultuous first marriage to Ted White, who was not-so-secretly physically abusive.

"Aretha didn't write 'Chain,' but she might as well have. It was her story," the singer's sister said. "When we were in the studio putting on the backgrounds with Ree doing lead, I knew she was singing about Ted. Listen to the lyrics talking about how for five long years she thought he was her man. Then she found out she was nothing but another link in the chain. Then she sings that her father told her to come on home. Well, he did. She sings about how her doctor told her to take it easy. Well he did, too. She was drinking so much we thought she was on the verge of a breakdown. The line that slew me, though, was the one that said how one of these mornings the chain is gonna break but until then she'll take all she can take. That summed it up. Ree knew damn well that this man had been doggin' her since Jump Street. But some how she held on and pushed it to the breaking point. I can't listen to that song without thinking about the tipping point in her long ugly thing with Ted."

Issued as a single in November 1967, "Chain of Fools" continued Aretha's mighty string of hits on the pop charts. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 - blocked from the top spot by John Fred and The Playboy's novelty hit "Judy in Disguise (with Glasses)."

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