Respect (song)

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Single by Otis Redding
from the album Otis Blue
B-side "Ole Man Trouble"
Released August 15, 1965
Format 7" single
Recorded July 1965
Stax Recording Studios
(Memphis, Tennessee)
Genre Rhythm and blues
Length 2:08
Label Volt/Atco
Writer(s) Otis Redding
Producer(s) Steve Cropper
Otis Redding singles chronology
"I've Been Loving You Too Long"
"That's How Strong My Love Is"
Single by Aretha Franklin
from the album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
B-side "Dr. Feelgood"
Released April 29, 1967
Format 7" single
Recorded Atlantic Records Studio, New York City: February 14, 1967
Genre Soul
Length 2:29
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Otis Redding
Producer(s) Jerry Wexler
Aretha Franklin singles chronology
"I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)"
"Baby I Love You"

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"Respect" is a song written and originally released by American recording artist Otis Redding in 1965. The song became a 1967 hit and signature song for R&B singer Aretha Franklin. The music in the two versions is significantly different, and through a few minor changes in the lyrics, the stories told by the songs have a different flavor. Redding's version is a plea from a desperate man, who will give his woman anything she wants. He won't care if she does him wrong, as long as he gets his due respect, when he comes home ("respect" being a euphemism). However, Franklin's version is a declaration from a strong, confident woman, who knows that she has everything her man wants. She never does him wrong, and demands his "respect". Franklin's version adds the "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" chorus and the backup singers' refrain of "Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me..."

Franklin's cover was a landmark for the feminist movement, and is often considered as one of the best songs of the R&B era, earning her two Grammy Awards in 1968 for "Best Rhythm & Blues Recording" and "Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Female", and was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2002, the Library of Congress honored Franklin's version by adding it to the National Recording Registry. It is number five on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[1] It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. Franklin included a live recording on the album Aretha in Paris (1968).


At first a ballad, it was written by Redding for Speedo Sims, who intended to record it with his band, the Singing Demons. Redding rewrote the lyrics and sped up the rhythm. Speedo then went with band to the Muscle Shoals studios, but was unable to produce a good version. Redding then decided to sing the song himself, which Speedo agreed to. Redding also promised to credit Speedo on the liner notes, but this never happened; Speedo, however, never charged him for not doing so.

The song was included on Redding's third studio album, Otis Blue (1965). [2] The album became widely successful, even outside of his largely R&B and blues fan base. When released in the summer of 1965, the song reached the top five on Billboard's Black Singles Chart, and crossed over to pop radio's white audience, peaking at number thirty-five there. At the time, the song became Redding's second largest crossover hit (after "I've Been Loving You Too Long") and paved the way to future presence on American radio. Redding performed it at the Monterey Pop Festival.[3]

The two versions of "Respect" as performed by Otis Redding originally and later re-imagined by Aretha Franklin are significantly different. While both songs have similar styles and tempos the writers and performers of the lyrics clearly had two different messages in mind when producing these songs. The songs only differ lyrically in the refrains while the verses by and large stay the same. Otis Reddings version plays out as follows:

"But all I'm askin' is for a little respect when I come home"[4]

Though it isn't much of a refrain as most of Redding's version is made up of shorter verses, this line appears as a conclusion to every verse and echoes into the next line tying it all together. Redding's short refrain comes at the end of each verse and leads into the next. Redding's version was written from the perspective of a hardworking man who can only look forward to getting home and finally receiving the respect he deserves from his family. His version is less a plea for respect and more a comment on a man's feeling of worth in his work life and at home. The original version of "Respect" was produced by Steve Cropper, who also played instrumentals for the hit track along with William Bell and Earl Sims on backup vocals.

The inspiration for the song had come when, in response to Redding's complaints after a hard tour, MGs drummer Al Jackson reportedly said, "What are you griping about? You're on the road all the time. All you can look for is a little respect when you come home".[5]

Producer Jerry Wexler brought Redding's song to Franklin's attention. While Redding's version was popular among his core R&B audience, Wexler thought the song had potential to be a crossover hit and to demonstrate Franklin's vocal ability. "Respect" was recorded on February 14, 1967.

When Aretha Franklin re-imagined the song it took on a whole new meaning. While still maintaining much of the original lyrics she made it her own anthem by adding a few key lines. This climactic break near the end of the song contains new lyrics and powerful new, soon-famous hooks:

Find out what it means to me
Take care ... TCB
Sock it to me, Sock it to me, Sock it to me, Sock it to me [etc]

The repeated "sock it to me" line, sung by Franklin's sisters Erma and Carolyn, was an idea that Carolyn and Aretha had worked out together; spelling out "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" was (according to engineer Tom Dowd) Carolyn's idea.[6]

The Redding composition had no bridge section, so producer Jerry Wexler added one in which King Curtis' tenor saxophone soloed over the chords from Sam and Dave's song "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby".[6] Spooner Oldham played piano for the number; in an interview[citation needed] he explained it was not uncommon for Franklin herself to play accompanying piano.[further explanation needed]

The resulting song was featured on Franklin's 1967 breakthrough Atlantic Records debut album, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You. As the title track became a hit on both R&B and pop radio, Atlantic Records arranged for the release of this new version of "Respect" as a single.

Franklin's rendition found greater success than the original, spending two weeks atop the Billboard Pop Singles chart, and eight weeks on the Billboard Black Singles chart. The changes in lyrics and production drove Franklin's version to become an anthem for the increasingly large Civil Rights and Women's Rights movements. She altered the lyrics to represent herself, a strong woman demanding respect from her man.[7] It also became a hit internationally, reaching number ten in the United Kingdom, and helping to transform Franklin from a domestic star into an international one. Otis Redding himself was impressed with the performance of the song. At the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of the cover's release, he was quoted playfully describing "Respect" as the song "that a girl took away from me, a friend of mine, this girl she just took this song".

Franklin lip-synched to a new, longer version of the song in a musical sequence of the 1998 film Blues Brothers 2000. This version appears on the film soundtrack album, and in addition to Franklin's singing features backup vocals from The Ridgeway Sisters and a recurring sax riff performed by Blues Brothers saxophonist Lou Marini.


Otis Redding version[edit]

Aretha Franklin version[edit]

Preceded by
"Groovin'" by The Young Rascals
Billboard Hot 100 number one single (Aretha Franklin version)
June 3–10, 1967
Succeeded by
"Groovin'" by The Young Rascals
Preceded by
"Jimmy Mack" by Martha & the Vandellas
Billboard's Hot Rhythm & Blues number one single (Aretha Franklin version)
May 20 – July 8, 1967
Succeeded by
"I Was Made to Love Her" by Stevie Wonder

Sheet Music Respect Hanson Publications cover design by Helen Hersh


Franklin's version of the song contains the famous lines (as printed in the lyrics included in the 1985 compilation album Atlantic Soul Classics):

Find out what it means to me
Take care of... TCB[8]

The last line is often misquoted as "Take out, TCP", or something similar, and indeed most published music sheets which include the lyrics have this incorrect line in them. "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" and "T-C-B" are not present in Redding's original song,[9] but were included in some of his later performances with the Bar-Kays. There seems to be some confusion over who first used "T-C-B" in the song. In a musical episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, Babs Bunny lip synchs to Respect. This line plays during a fight scene with the title above the brawl. During the fight, the letters TCP are removed from the word to tie up one of the series' antagonists.

"TCB" is an abbreviation, that was commonly used in the 1960s and 1970s, meaning "Taking Care (of) Business", and it was particularly widely used in African-American culture.[10] However, it was somewhat less well-known outside of that culture,[11] yielding a possible explanation as to why it was not recognized by those who transcribed Franklin's words for music sheets. Nevertheless, "TCB in a flash" later became Elvis Presley's motto and signature, from his necklace to his private jet plane.

Franklin's lyrics most probably influenced hip-hop's later use of both the word "proper" and "props" in the context of proper respect. She proclaims that she is about to give him all her money, and that all she's asking is for him to give her "her propers", when he gets home.

Chart history[edit]

Aretha Franklin version[edit]

Year Chart Position
1967 R&B Singles Chart 1
Billboard Hot 100 1
Australian Singles Chart 1
Canadian Singles Chart 2
Italian Singles Chart 7
UK Singles Chart 10

Gareth Gates

Other covers[edit]

Although a slightly different composition, Prince Buster's ska song of the same name released on his 1965 album Ska-Lip-Soul album was clearly inspired by Otis Redding's original. In 1966, the John Evan Band, now Jethro Tull, made a cover version of the song originally released by Otis Redding in 1965. This is a rather rare cover of the song, but still one of the earliest. It can be found on a bootleg of a concert given by the John Evan Band in the town of Casterton, England in 1966.

Despite being overshadowed, Redding's version is still considered a soul classic, and highly regarded by fans of Stax-Volt and southern soul recordings. The Vagrants, a Long Island, New York blue-eyed soul group recorded a version of Respect in 1967, which became a minor hit in the Eastern United States. Another regional band that had a hit with the song was the Michigan-based rock band The Rationals, whose 1966 release of the song received airplay on Detroit radio stations and predated the release of Aretha Franklin's version by a year. The Rotary Connection also have a version of the song, recorded in 1969 for Chess Records.

Ike & Tina Turner released it on their 1971 double live album What You Hear Is What You Get (Live at Carnegie Hall).[12]

Janis Joplin also recorded the song. Joplin's version is similar to Redding's, although it was a September 1968 studio improvisation, and goes up only to 1st chorus, after which Janis stops, saying: "Another, another". This recording is released only on the unofficial album "Rarer Pearls", which contains various other Joplin studio and live cuts.[13][14]

Cass Elliot and Sammy Davis, Jr. performed it as a medley with I Dig Rock and Roll Music, Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud, What'd I Say and another Franklin's tune, Think. They sang it on variety show The Hollywood Palace, in 1969.[15][16] The Chipettes covered the song for the 1986 Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "Cinderella? Cinderella!"

Country Music singer, Reba McEntire, recorded the song on her 1988 self-titled album, Reba (album).

Dexys Midnight Runners frequently included the song in their live set, and have issued at least two different live recordings of the song. A house music cover was released by Scottish singer Adeva in 1989, and reached #17 in the UK singles chart. The song was covered by the Basque fusion-rock band Negu Gorriak, translated as "Errespetua" (respect in euskara) for their 1996 cover album Salam, agur. After the band's split, singer Fermin Muguruza continued to perform his version of the song in some of his solo projects' concerts, and it appeared as the final track on his live album Kontrabanda - Barcelona, Apolo 2004-I-21.

In 1997, ABC used a re-written version of the song for an advertisement for Recess, replacing the lyrics in order to be about the show, and changing the chorus to "R-E-C-E-S-S".

In 2002, En Vogue performed the song on their concert DVD, "Live in the USA".

In the film Are We There Yet? (released in 2005), Lindsey Kingston (portrayed by Aleisha Allen) sings her rendition of this song on the stage during the New Year's party and dances in the interlude.

During Glee's pilot in 2009, Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) auditions for the glee club singing a shortened version of Respect, accompanied only by a piano. This makes Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) refer to her as "Aretha" on several occasions throughout the series' six seasons.

In 2011, Raven-Symoné & Loretta Devine covered the song for a State of Georgia's episode "R-E-S-P-E-C-T".

In 2011 Misha B auditioned for the UK The X Factor, with a 'show-stopping'[17] cover of Respect; that included her own rap - "how do you make Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' even more sassy? with a rap, of course!"[18][19]

In 2011 Argentine group "Connor Questa" covered the Aretha version on album "Somos por Partes".

In 2012, Melanie Amaro recorded an uptempo version of the song for a Pepsi commercial alongside Elton John as a part of her prize for winning the first season of The X Factor USA. The single peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs.

In 2012, Brooklyn-based band Big Ups released a cover of the song, recorded at the Converse Rubber Tracks recording studio.


"Respect" has appeared in dozens of films and still receives consistent play on oldies radio stations. In the 1970s, Franklin's version of the song came to exemplify the feminist movement.[20] Producer Wexler said in a Rolling Stone interview, that Franklin's song was "global in its influence, with overtones of the civil-rights movement and gender equality. It was an appeal for dignity."[21] Although she had numerous hits after "Respect", and several before its release, the song became Franklin's signature song and her best-known recording. I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You was ranked eighty-third in Rolling Stone‍ '​s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003. A year later, "Respect" was fifth in the magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song "Respect" is part of the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.[22]


  1. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  2. ^ Guralnick 1999, pp. 184–185.
  3. ^ Len Comaratta (October 3, 2010). "Rock History 101: Otis Redding at the Monterey Pop Festival". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved November 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ "OTIS REDDING lyrics - Respect". 
  5. ^ Classic Tracks. Back To Back Singles. Thunder Bay Press. 2008. p71
  6. ^ a b "Aretha Franklin, 'Respect'". Rolling Stone. 
  7. ^ Soeder, John. "The inside story on Aretha Franklins chart topping anthem". Sun News. 
  8. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 52 - The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 8] : UNT Digital Library" (AUDIO). Pop Chronicles. 
  9. ^ Redding, Otis. "Respect", 1965, Volt Records
  10. ^ 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. 169–170. ISBN 0-312-31828-6. 
  11. ^ Landy, Eugene E. The Underground Dictionary, New York: Simon and Schuster (1971), ISBN 0-671-21012-2
  12. ^ "Listen samples on". 
  13. ^ "Rarer Pearls, Janis Joplin - information about album and song". 
  14. ^ "Janis Joplin's unofficial discography". 
  15. ^ The Hollywood Palace, IMDb [1]
  16. ^ The Hollywood Palace, [2]
  17. ^ "BBC - 1Xtra Live 2012 - Acts - Misha B". 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2012. A break from the traditional X Factor contestant, Misha made waves with show-stopping performances of Respect, Rolling In The Deep and Purple Rain on her way to the semi-final. 
  18. ^ title=The 20 Best 'X Factor' Auditions Ever title=The 20 Best 'X Factor' Auditions Ever. Retrieved 7 August 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "The X Factor - YouTube". 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  20. ^ Kembrew McLeod et al: Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling, Duke University Press, 2001, p.228
  21. ^ Deborah Norville: The Power of Respect: Benefit from the Most Forgotten Element of Success, Thomas Nelson Inc, 2009, p.18
  22. ^ "500 Songs That Shaped Rock". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 


External links[edit]