|Single by Aretha Franklin|
|from the album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You|
|Released||April 29, 1967|
|Recorded||Atlantic Records Studio, New York City: February 14, 1967|
|Aretha Franklin singles chronology|
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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 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 brings money home. 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 was placed number five on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. 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). 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.
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 Redding's version plays out as follows:
- "But all I'm askin' is for a little respect when I come home"
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 is characteristically funky, with his raspy-soulful singing and electric vocal charisma front and center.” His song utilizes “playful horns and sexy, mock-beleaguered vocals” to deliver lyrics without any subtext. The message of a man demanding respect from his woman for being the breadwinner is decisively clear. 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. He mentions that he’s “about to, just give you all of my money,” and that all he wants in return is respect. The woman he is singing to can even “do me wrong, honey, if you wanna to/You can do me wrong honey, while I'm gone.” The lyrics are repetitive and straightforward throughout the song; there isn’t any layering of messages or intentions.
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".
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.
Franklin's re-imagination of the song lent it an entirely 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. The phrase "Sock it to me" became a household expression. In an interview with WHYY's Fresh Air in 1999, Aretha said, "Some of the girls were saying that to the fellas, like 'sock it to me' in this way or 'sock it to me' in that way. It's not sexual. It was nonsexual, just a cliché line."
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". Franklin played piano for the number; in an interview, Spooner Oldham explained it was not uncommon for Franklin herself to play accompanying piano.
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.
So much of what made "Respect" a hit — and an anthem — came from Franklin's rearrangement. 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. Franklin’s demands for ‘Respect’ were “associated either with black freedom struggles or women’s liberation.”
The song 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." "When her hit single ‘Respect’ climbed the charts in July 1967, some fans declared that the summer of 1967 was ‘the summer of 'Retha, Rap, and Revolt.'”
- Written by Otis Redding
Otis Redding version
- Otis Redding – lead vocals
- Booker T. Jones – keyboards, piano
- Isaac Hayes – keyboards, piano
- Steve Cropper – guitar
- Donald Dunn – bass guitar
- Al Jackson Jr. – drums
- Wayne Jackson – trumpet
- Gene Miller – trumpet
- Andrew Love – tenor saxophone
- Floyd Newman – baritone saxophone
- William Bell – backing vocals
- Earl Sims – backing vocals
- Steve Cropper – producer
- Tom Dowd - Engineer
Aretha Franklin version
- Produced by Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin
- Engineering by Tom Dowd
- Aretha Franklin – lead vocals
- Spooner Oldham – keyboards
- Cornell Dupree – guitar
- Tommy Cogbill – bass guitar
- Gene Chrisman – drums
- King Curtis – tenor saxophone
- Charles Chalmers – tenor saxophone
- Willie Bridges – baritone saxophone
- Carolyn Franklin – background vocals
- Erma Franklin – background vocals
Diana Ross and the Supremes with the Temptations version
Because Aretha Franklin made the song “Respect” a hit, many who sampled and cover the song referred to Franklin’s version rather than Otis’s. For instance, Diana Ross & The Supremes and the Temptations made a cover of this song in their collaborated LP “Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations." The Supremes were a female group consisting of Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and (at the time of the "Respect" recording) Cindy Birdsong. Later this group would be known as Diana Ross & The Supremes. The Temptations, on the other hand, were a male group consisting of Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin and (on "Respect") Dennis Edwards. Both groups were signed under Berry Gordy, Jr.’s Motown record label, and it was Gordy’s idea to pair up his two most successful artists. With this collaborative LP, Gordy also organized a prime-time special TV program titled “TCB,” a commonly used abbreviation standing for “Taking Care of Business.”  Among the songs on the LP that were performed on this program included a cover of Aretha Franklin’s version of “Respect.” The two groups took Franklin’s message to new heights as the male versus female duet illustrated a battle of each gender demanding their own respect. Additionally, this cover highlights the Supremes’ own battle for racial equality. Much like Aretha Franklin, The Supremes’ rise to fame coincided with the Civil Rights Movement, in which these ladies used their fame and status in the fight for racial equality. The Supremes were the most successful Motown group to break down racial boundaries within the popular music industry. They represented racial integration, black empowerment, and black womanhood and their cover of “Respect” with the Temptations illustrates that.
Joss Stone version
Although Otis Redding originally wrote the song, Joss Stone sampled Aretha Franklin's version instead. "Headturner" appeared on her third album, Introducing Joss Stone in 2007. She approached her song by taking the texture and sound of Franklin's song, but keeping her own composition. Aretha's version became an icon for the feminist movement, demanding for a little respect. Stone's version also portrayed the same message, as well as expressing self-confidence and a little bit of sass. Stone was inspired and highly influenced by Aretha Franklin. She would mimic Franklin's singing style growing up. Stone has such an amazing voice that her "soulful vocals have seen her described as 'the white Aretha Franklin'". In fact, Stone reached out to Franklin to sing one of her written songs and Franklin agreed to do it, but Stone believed the contract conditions were too impeding. Although, many loved Joss Stone, she did receive criticism and was questioned as a singer because of her background. Her audience expected soul artists to have been born in poverty and have had a rough and painful life in order to sing soul music because of how emotional it is; people also expected someone with a voice like Stone's to be black.
- Joss Stone, Billy Mann, and Otis Redding – writers
- Joi, Keisha Jackson, and Jermaine Paul – backing vocals
- Raphael Saadiq and Spanky Alford – guitar
- Raphael Saadiq – bass
- Lionel Holoman – organ
- Khari Parker and Bobby Ozuna – drums
- Anthony Coleman – trumpet
- James Zeller – trombone
- Kenneth Whalum – saxophone
- Chuck Brungardt and Glenn Standridge – recording and mixing engineer
- Seamus Tyson, Scott Somerville, and Isaiah Abolin – assistant engineer
- Tom Coyne – mastering engineer
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
"TCB" is an abbreviation, commonly used in the 1960s and 1970s, meaning "Taking Care (of) Business". It was particularly widely used in African-American culture. However, it was somewhat less well-known outside of that culture. The last line is often misquoted as "Take out, TCP", or something similar, and indeed most published music sheets which include the lyrics contain this incorrect line, possibly because those who transcribed Franklin's words for music sheets weren't familiar with the culture. Nevertheless, "TCB in a flash" later became Elvis Presley's motto and signature.
"R-E-S-P-E-C-T" and "TCB" are not present in Redding's original song, but were included in some of his later performances with the Bar-Kays. There seems to be some confusion over which artist first used "TCB" in the song.
Franklin added lyrics in which she demands "her propers" when he gets home. This particular line probably influenced hip-hop's later use of both the word "proper" and "props" in the context of proper respect.
Franklin's version of the song was released in 1967, amid notable societal changes; these included the Civil Rights Movement, the war in Vietnam, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the Black Panthers movement. Franklin's message is conveyed as a demand for increased respect towards women during this time, many of whom were playing roles as civil rights activists without adequate recognition. When asked about her audacious stance amidst the feminist and Civil Rights Movement, Franklin told Detroit Free Press, “I don’t think it’s bold at all. I think it’s quite natural that we all want respect — and should get it.”
Aretha Franklin version
|1967||R&B Singles Chart||1|
|Billboard Hot 100||1|
|Australian Singles Chart||14|
|Canadian Singles Chart||2|
|Italian Singles Chart||7|
|UK Singles Chart||10|
- A cover by The Rationals reached #92 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966.
- Stevie Wonder covered the song later in 1967 with slightly modified lyrics, and he played his harmonica over the "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" section.
- Crazy Elephant released a version of the song on their 1969 album, Crazy Elephant.
- A house music cover with altered lyrics was released by American singer Adeva in 1989, which reached #17 on the UK Singles Chart and is featured on her debut album.
- In the film Are We There Yet?, Lindsey Kingston (portrayed by Aleisha Allen) performs this song with the karaoke machine onstage during the New Year's gala kids' party.
- In the film St Elmo's Fire, Kevin (portrayed by Andrew McCarthy) singing in falsetto the song meanwhille he is smoking and playing the bongos.
- During the ending credits of the Family Matters episode "Aunt Oona", Harriette, Carl and Laura Winslow (portrayed by Jo Marie Payton, Reginald VelJohnson and Kellie Shanygne Williams respectively) sing two of the song's verses during a singing contest.
- In 2012, Christine Anu covered the song on her album, Rewind: The Aretha Franklin Songbook.
- 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.
- Rock band The Vagrants recorded a garage rock version of this song, which was later featured on the Nuggets compilation.
- Singer Christina Grimmie did a cover for ONE's agit8 campaign.
- A cover by Joss Stone appeared on her third album, Introducing Joss Stone in 2007.
- Jessica Mauboy covered the song for her 2017 album The Secret Daughter: Season Two.
"Respect" has appeared in dozens of films and still receives consistent play on radio stations. In the 1970s, Franklin's version of the song came to exemplify the feminist movement. 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." 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 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.
In the video for Franklin's later hit "Freeway of Love", a license plate on one of the cars says "Respect" in reference to the song.
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- Deborah Norville: The Power of Respect: Benefit from the Most Forgotten Element of Success, Thomas Nelson Inc, 2009, p. 18.
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