I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)

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"I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)"
Single by Aretha Franklin
from the album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
B-side "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man"
Released February 10, 1967
Recorded January 24, 1967[1]
Genre Soul, blues
Length 2:51
Label Atlantic
Songwriter(s) Ronnie Shannon
Producer(s) Jerry Wexler
Aretha Franklin singles chronology
"I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)"
"I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)"

"I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" is a 1967 soul single released by American recording artist Aretha Franklin. It became a defining song for Franklin in that it became the first big hit of her career.[2] The song peaked at number one on the Rhythm and Blues charts and number nine on the pop charts.[3] The B-side was "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man".[4] Up until then, Franklin placed two Top 40 singles on the pop chart during her modest tenure on Columbia Records.


Aretha Franklin had made nine albums while under contract to Columbia Records but had remained commercially unsuccessful. When Columbia Records let Franklin's contract lapse in 1966, Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler quickly signed her, taking her in January 1967 to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, along with recording engineer Tom Dowd and Franklin's then-husband Ted White. Wexler had arranged for Chips Moman and Tommy Cogbill from Stax to join the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section at Rick Hall's FAME Studios.[5] Musicians on the record included Melvin Lastie on trumpet, King Curtis and Charlie Chalmers on tenor saxophone, Willie Bridges on baritone saxophone, Spooner Oldham on Wurlitzer electric piano, Chips Moman and Jimmy Johnson on guitar, Tommy Cogbill on bass guitar, and Roger Hawkins on drums.

The first song they worked on was one that Franklin had brought with her, written by Ronnie Shannon.[5]

After signing Franklin, Wexler requested her to record a blues song. Franklin later says of her Atlantic tenure that "they just told me to sit on the piano and sing". From the very first chord that Aretha played on the piano, it was clear to everyone that it was a magic moment. It was at that point that Spooner Oldham, who had been hired to play piano, stepped aside to play the electric piano.[5] Within minutes of Franklin's recording, Wexler knew he had a hit.

The FAME session was later disrupted by a fight between Ted White and trumpeter Melvin Lastie after Lastie was seen flirting with Franklin, leaving the B-side, "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" unfinished. Wexler recorded more songs with Franklin in Atlantic's New York City studio, with some members of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section flown in to complete "Do Right Woman" and a number of other tracks (including "Respect").

"I Never Loved a Man" rose to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Franklin's first #1 hit on the R&B charts. It was also the title of Franklin's first Atlantic LP. Franklin would soon become a superstar after the release of this song. The song has since been called a pivotal moment in rock and roll. It ranked #189 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The creation of the song is related in the BBC documentary series Soul Deep, including interviews with the original personnel including Aretha Franklin, Ronnie Shannon (demonstrating the central riff on electric piano), and Jerry Wexler.

Swedish pop group Roxette included the song in their MTV Unplugged show, in 1993. The song was later covered by Aerosmith as "Never Loved a Girl" on 2004's Honkin' on Bobo a collection of old blues and R&B songs. The song has also been performed on American Idol by contestants Sabrina Sloan in season 6 and Alexis Grace in season 8. Both performances received much acclaim. Grammy Award winners Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Spencer Wiggins and Jennifer Hudson have also covered the song.

There are a number of renditions of this song on YouTube including Aretha performing it on the Lady Soul special from 1968. A live recording featured on the album "Aretha in Paris" (1968).

This song has been in many movies, such as the 1991 movie The Commitments and the 2007 movie This Christmas, starring Loretta Devine.

Garth Brooks for the 2013 "Blue-Eyed Soul" album in the "Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences" compilation.

Chart positions[edit]

Charts Peak
R&B Singles Chart 1
Billboard Hot 100 9

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dobkin 2006, p. 133.
  2. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 52 - The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 8] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 215. 
  4. ^ Dobkin, Matt (2004). I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You: Aretha Franklin, Respect, and the Making of a Soul Music Masterpiece. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 7–8, 187–188. ISBN 0-312-31828-6. 
  5. ^ a b c Guralnick, Peter (1986). Sweet Soul Music. New York: Harper and Row. pp. 338–343. ISBN 0-06-096049-3. 


Preceded by
"Love Is Here and Now You're Gone" by The Supremes
Billboard's Hot Rhythm & Blues number one single
March 25 - May 6, 1967
Succeeded by
"Jimmy Mack" by Martha & the Vandellas