I’ve been on a hardcore Aretha Franklin kick all week long. I think it actually started on Sunday morning, when I caught the tail end of Ain’t No Way being piped through the speakers at my grocery store. I instantly forgot what kind of bread I needed and got caught up in the melody. Ain’t No Way is quite possibly my favorite Aretha song. No wait, it’s I Never Loved a Man. Or maybe it’s Dr. Feelgood. There’s so many songs to choose from!
I love older clips of Aretha Franklin because in her earlier days, she showcased her powerful voice to great advantage without getting into the kind of melisma overkill that I get so annoyed by these days. (Click here for an example of that. Now compare that rendition to this one, and you’ll see what I mean). I also love old Aretha Franklin clips, because her look has evolved so much. Now she rocks the kind of mane n’ tail weaves that every other R&B singer does. Back in the day, Aretha was working the TWA with style. And so did all her backup singers! This video of her singing Natural Woman really made me feel it. Had to share.
That clip will break your heart a little — she slides seamlessly into I Say A Little Prayer before it ends abruptly. But if you’re still yearning for more Aretha, you need to treat yourself to a copy of Live at Fillmore West. It’s hard to find a live album thatÂ is that perfect, that captures that kind of spirit. All you need to do is listen to the audio of Spirit in the Dark with Ray Charles to know that album’s a classic. What’s your favorite Aretha Franklin song, bellas and fellas?