Today - March 25 - would have marked Aretha Franklin's 78th birthday. We are paying our respects to the beloved Queen of Soul and her enduring legacy with a compilation of her classic hits. Franklin scored over 70 entries on the Billboard Hot 100 throughout her iconic chart career - what's your favorite Franklin song?
"I Say a Little Prayer"
Franklin took this Dionne Warwick million-seller in 1968 and made it her own tune - to the point that Burt Bacharach, one of the writer's of "I Say a Little Prayer" called Franklin's cover the definitive reading.
Bridge Over Troubled Water"
When Paul Simon was first writing gospel-influenced ballad "Bridge," he shared with Rolling Stone in 1970, “Boy, I bet Aretha could do a good job on this song." Sure enough, the sweetheart of soul set her eyes on the tune and took home a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal in 1972 for her anthemic cover.
"Dr. Feelgood (Love Is A Serious Business)"
This self-penned, slow-burner showcases Franklin the romantic, a piano in blues building verse by verse unto its impassioned climax. Aretha steps forth unabashedly proclaims she don't need a doctor as her man can cure her anew.
Every track from Franklin's 1972 release Amazing Grace is a winning gospel track - so much so that we did a giveaway of the double live album. The 10-minute title track is no different, perhaps one of Franklin's best performances of her storied career, a cathartic and heavenly vocal delivery that brings one right to the pearly gates.
"You Make Me Feel Like (A Natural Woman)"
Composed by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, this classic celebrates the "natural woman" in Franklin's strong embrace of womanhood in its totality. By rejoicing in love and joy, Franklin undermines any and all stereotype of unhappiness and weakness as she champions “You make me feel so alive!”
"I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)"
Newly partnered with Atlantic Records, the Lady of Soul was finally given the creative freedom to do as she pleased: "They just told me to sit at the piano and sing." In response, Franklin poured her heart into the title track of her 10th album, the bluesy "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)."
Written shortly after attending Martin Luther King, Jr's funeral in 1968, "Think" became Franklin's personal and political plea, imploring people to "let [their] mind[s] go, let [themselves] be free." The single reached No. 7 on the pop charts while topping the R&B chart.
Franklin's anthemic cover of Otis Redding's 1965 "Respect" became the emblem of the civil rights movement, a force in the feminist movement and another fiery No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Civil Rights Movement was burning and Franklin's rapidfire vocal riffs scorched "R-e-s-p-e-c-t" into everyone's minds.