Aretha Franklin Performs ‘Respect’ Live in the South of France, 1970

When Aretha Franklin took Otis Redding’s 1965 song “Respect” and changed the words to fit her gender, she transformed the song into a feminist manifesto. Not only was the love relationship in the lyrics changed, so too was the economic one. The sense of feminine power was underscored with the addition of a bridge that wasn’t in the original:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Take care, TCB

“TCB” stands for “take care of business.” When Franklin recorded the song in New York on Valentine’s Day, 1967, she was joined by her sisters Carolyn and Erma, who sang backing vocals. Aretha and Carolyn came up with the idea for the “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” bridge, and for the repeating “sock it to me” line at the end. “I fell off my chair when I heard that!” engineer Tom Dowd told Rolling Stone. The record was produced by Jerry Wexler, who recruited musicians from Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The memorable saxophone solo was played by King Curtis, and the arrangement was by Arif Mardin. “I have been in many studios in my life,” Mardin told Rolling Stone, “but there was never a day like that.”

The clip above shows Franklin and a later group of backing singers, the Sweethearts of Soul, performing “Respect” on July 20, 1970, at the 11th Antibes Juan-Le-Pins Jazz Festival on the French Riviera. Franklin was on her second tour of Europe. She was part of a lineup at the festival that year that included Lionel Hampton, Stan Getz and Erroll Garner.

Related content:

The Queen of Soul Conquers Europe: Aretha Franklin in Amsterdam, 1968



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