|"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"|
|Single by Aretha Franklin|
|from the album Lady Soul|
|B-side||"Baby, Baby, Baby"|
|Studio||American Sound Studio, Memphis, Tennessee|
|Aretha Franklin singles chronology|
"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" is a 1967 song by American soul singer Aretha Franklin released as a single by the Atlantic label. The words were written by Gerry Goffin from an idea by Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler, and the music was composed by Carole King. Written for Franklin, the record was a big hit reaching number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and became one of her signature songs. It made history on the UK Singles Chart a week after her death, finally becoming a hit almost 51 years after it was first released, entering at No. 79. Franklin also included a live recording on the album Aretha in Paris in 1968.
Carole King herself recorded the song for her 1971 album Tapestry. The numerous cover versions of the song include recordings by Mary J. Blige and Celine Dion, both of which charted in the same year (1995). At the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, Aretha Franklin performed the song to honor award-recipient Carole King.
Background and release
Written by the partnership of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, the song was inspired by Atlantic Records co-owner and producer Jerry Wexler. As recounted in his autobiography, Wexler, a student of African-American musical culture, had been mulling over the concept of the "natural man", when he drove by King on the streets of New York. He shouted out to her that he wanted a "natural woman" song for Aretha Franklin's next album. Goffin and King went home and wrote the song that night. In thanks, they granted Wexler a co-writing credit.
Cash Box said that "from the vocal standpoint, the side is unmatched; and in the ork and production departments, excellent work add up to a shattering performance" and that the song builds to "new emotional peaks" from a "shattering" beginning.
- Aretha Franklin – lead vocals
- Spooner Oldham – piano
- Tommy Cogbill – bass
- Gene Chrisman – drums
- The Sweet Inspirations, Carolyn Franklin & Erma Franklin – background vocals
- strings conducted by Ralph Burns
|US Billboard Hot 100||8|
|US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)||2|
|U.S. Cash Box Top 100||12|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||32|
|Sweden Heatseeker (Sverigetopplistan)||12|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||69|
|UK Singles (OCC)||79|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||400,000‡|
‡ Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.
Carole King version
|"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"|
|Song by Carole King|
|from the album Tapestry|
King recorded "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" for her 1971 Tapestry album, a record that became one of the best-selling albums of all time. Her rendition is done in a stripped-down, slower-tempo arrangement as compared to the original, an arrangement that features only King's piano and Charles Larkey's bass. King's vocal makes no attempt to duplicate Franklin's power or style, instead singing in her own more conversational voice.
In a review of Tapestry at the time for Rolling Stone, critic Jon Landau praised the rendering of "Natural Woman" as one of the album's "pleasantest moments" and "an entirely fresh and original interpretation." A retrospective review for AllMusic comments that her recording of it for Tapestry "take[s] on added resonance when delivered in her own warm, compelling voice." Writing for Pitchfork, music journalist Jenn Pelly says that while King's version is not the definitive one, it does "carry the bespoke power of a woman reckoning with her history in song ... Of course King's 'Natural Woman' does not summon the heavens with the same earth-shattering force as the Queen of Soul's version ... But the grasping of King's 'you make me's and the fluttering of her 'feel's are charged with the force of a person attempting to turn herself inside out. In the voice of Aretha, 'Natural Woman' is glory. In the voice of King, it is, like all of Tapestry, an act of pure conviction."
"A Natural Woman" was included in King's concert performances at the time, during which she sought to deflect comparisons the original by suggested that the audience listen to it in the frame of reference of the demo recording for Aretha that it had originally been.
Mary J. Blige version
|"(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman"|
|Single by Mary J. Blige|
|from the album New York Undercover soundtrack|
|Mary J. Blige singles chronology|
American singer Mary J. Blige recorded a cover version of "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman" for the New York Undercover TV series soundtrack (1995). Her version was produced by James Mtume and it reached number 23 in the United Kingdom and number 95 in the United States. It was later added to the international versions of her 1994 album, My Life. The music video was directed by Brett Ratner.
- US CD single
- "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman" – 2:56
- "You Bring Me Joy" (E-Smoove's soul mix) – 5:22
- UK CD maxi-single
- "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman" – 2:57
- "Be Happy" (Puffy remix) – 4:40
- "Mary's Joint" (Puffy remix) – 3:27
- "Changes I've Been Going Through" (Teddy Riley remix) – 4:30
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||36|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||46|
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||15|
|UK Singles (OCC)||23|
|UK Dance (OCC)||7|
|UK Hip Hop/R&B (OCC)||4|
|US Billboard Hot 100||95|
|US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)||39|
|US Rhythmic (Billboard)||40|
|United Kingdom||December 4, 1995|||
Celine Dion version
|"(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman"|
|Promotional single by Celine Dion|
|from the album Tapestry Revisited: A Tribute to Carole King|
Canadian singer Celine Dion recorded a cover version of "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman" for the tribute album to Carole King, Tapestry Revisited: A Tribute to Carole King, which was released on October 31, 1995. Dion's version was produced by David Foster and released as a promotional single in selected countries in October 1995. It entered the Canadian charts, reaching number 47 on Top Singles and number four on Adult Contemporary. In the United States, it peaked at number nine on Radio & Records's Adult Contemporary chart and number 31 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart.
In March 1996, the song was included on the international editions of Dion's next studio album, Falling into You. In 2008, it was featured on the North American edition of her greatest hits album, My Love: Ultimate Essential Collection.
|Canada Top Singles (RPM)||47|
|Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)||4|
|US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)||31|
|US Adult Contemporary (Radio & Records)||9|
|US Adult Contemporary (Radio & Records)||94|
|Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)||53|
|US Adult Contemporary (Radio & Records)||66|
VH1 Divas version
On April 14, 1998, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, Gloria Estefan and Carole King performed the song during the VH1 Divas concert at the Beacon Theatre, New York. The six vocalists were recruited by the cable music network VH1 to raise money for Save the Music, their education charity. Hyped extensively in the press, the event was a ratings winner for VH1 – so successful, in fact, that the network arranged to have the concert released on disc and tape on October 6, 1998. At that time "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" (performed by all the divas) was released as a radio single in selected countries. It reached number nine on the airplay chart in Belgium Wallonia on January 5, 1999.
- Miller, Matt (December 30, 2015). "Aretha Franklin Just Brought the Leader of the Free World to Tears". Esquire. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
- Hattenstone, Simon (December 30, 2015). "Obama cries as Aretha Franklin proves why she's the queen of soul". the Guardian. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
- Kreps, Daniel (December 30, 2015). "Watch Aretha Franklin Bring Obama to Tears at Kennedy Center Honors". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 30, 2015. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
- Remnick, David "Soul Survivor: The revival and hidden treasure of Aretha Franklin", The New Yorker, April 4, 2016.
- "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. September 23, 1967. p. 26. Retrieved January 12, 2022.
- "Aretha Franklin Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 8, 2023.
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- Ankeny, Jason. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman at AllMusic
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- Pelly, Jenn (December 22, 2019). "Carole King: Tapestry". Pitchfork.
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- "Official Hip Hop and R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
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- "New Releases: Singles". Music Week. December 2, 1995. p. 48. Misprinted as December 3, on source. The Albums section uses the correct date.
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