Good morning, Thursday. So sad to hear the news about the Queen of Soul's passing this am. Aretha Franklin was a once in a lifetime talent and if you have any taste in music at all, you can't deny the sheer force and power of her talent. She moved me unspeakably. For most of my life. There has never been a time where I was not in the mood to listen to Aretha- whether I was a punk art school kid or a mad for it club going, twenty-something. It did not matter, because to me, Aretha is transcendent. Immune to trends. Immune to anything fleeting, besides of course, life.
And if I'm to think about what album of hers meant the most to be, it would be "Young, Gifted, and Black". None of which I am, obviously.
But that album, Jesus Lord. A true religious experience. Those gospel roots. Oh me, oh my.
I think listening to that album made me grow up. If there is a more perfectly orchestrated musical moment to feel the crush of love, lust, or passion, I'd be hard pressed to find it. And although Aretha's "Natural Woman" is an obvious one when it come to feeling empowered as a female, the songs on YG&B speak to the vulnerability and power of being a woman in love. I live for it. Opening on "Oh Me Oh My"- I'm a fool for you, baby. And then "Daydreaming" takes you to that gooey feeling of thinking about someone on repeat and wanting to be their absolute everything. It's beautiful. And then of course the challenge you not to groove to "Rock Steady" and all the fabulousness and pride in the album's anthem, "Young, Gifted, and Black". And that version of "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind this Time)". That will get you through anything you're going through. I'm sure of it. Gives me chills to this day.
I can remember dancing around my first apartment on my very own, wanting to put on a dress and perfume because this album made me feel that way. It made me want to celebrate my version of what it means to be a woman. And it made it ok to feel the holy shit moment of intense, fast burning love, and also ok to feel its crushing blows and inevitable defeat. It's such a classic. And I'm far from that woman in that little studio on 1st Avenue and 70th Street. But I do find I most enjoy listening to that album when I'm alone. I'm listening to it right now as I write and I will never tire of it. She's been with me throughout most of my adult life- and as a woman, my love for her has never waned, it just grows stronger with age. She provides the soundtrack for that. The glory. The pain. And most of all, the soul. I have no idea what it's like to have such a talent, but I know what it's like to appreciate it. And the world lost a comet today, and I for one will love Aretha until the end of time. A trailblazer, a freedom fighter, an activist, and most of all, a natural woman.
Because you may not remember every man that made you daydream, but you'll never forget a voice like that. RIP to the Queen. She really did blow my mind. And I was always grateful she said a little prayer for me. All you ever needed to say to anyone was "Aretha" and they got it. Cause that's what's up this great American Thursday in the 212. Yours, with the utmost RESPECT. XO