About The Song

Background

“Respect” is a song synonymous with Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul.” Released in 1967 by Atlantic Records, it became an anthem for women’s empowerment and a defining moment in American pop culture. However, the song’s journey began a few years earlier.

Otis Redding, a soul singer known for his powerful vocals, originally released “Respect” in 1965. His version presented a pleading, almost desperate, request from a man asking his woman to “give me some respect.”

Jerry Wexler, a producer at Atlantic Records, heard potential in the song but envisioned a different approach. He presented it to Aretha Franklin, who was known for her gospel roots and powerful voice. Franklin, along with her writing team, transformed the song.

Musical Style

Franklin’s “Respect” is rooted in soul music, a genre born from the fusion of gospel, rhythm and blues (R&B), and blues. It’s characterized by strong vocals, often conveying emotion through improvisation, backed by a tight rhythm section featuring drums, bass, piano, and sometimes horns.

Franklin’s version injects a powerful gospel influence. The piano riff, played by Floyd Cramer, is simple yet driving, reminiscent of a church choir. The horns, arranged by Arif Mardin, punctuate the song with sharp blasts, adding urgency. Franklin’s vocals are the centerpiece. She starts pleading but builds in intensity throughout the song, showcasing her remarkable range and control. The iconic call-and-response section with the backing singers (“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me”) further emphasizes the gospel roots.

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Lyrics

The lyrical changes Franklin and her team made were crucial. Redding’s version focused on a man’s desire for respect. Franklin’s version flips the script. The opening line, “Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me,” a slang term for “demand what you deserve,” sets the tone. The lyrics detail a woman working hard and expecting her partner to acknowledge her efforts. Lines like “I get tired, keep on workin’ late” and “You just walk in on me and do what you please” paint a picture of an unbalanced relationship. The chorus, “R-E-S-P-E-T, find out what it means to me,” becomes a powerful demand for equality and fair treatment.

Cultural Impact

“Respect” struck a chord with a nation in the midst of social change. The Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum, and women were increasingly demanding equality. The song’s message resonated with women of all backgrounds, becoming an anthem for self-respect and demanding fair treatment in relationships.

“Respect” transcended racial and gender barriers. The powerful vocals and universal message resonated with a wider audience. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and won two Grammy Awards, solidifying Franklin’s position as a musical icon.

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The song’s influence extended beyond music. It became a rallying cry for the feminist movement, appearing in protests and demonstrations. “Respect” continues to be a cultural touchstone, appearing in countless films and television shows. Aretha Franklin’s powerful rendition remains the definitive version, a testament to her artistry and the song’s enduring message.

Conclusion

“Respect” is more than just a song; it’s a cultural phenomenon. Aretha Franklin’s version transformed a simple request into a powerful demand for equality. The song’s influence continues to be felt today, a testament to the enduring power of music to inspire and empower.

Video

Lyrics

“Respect”

What you want
Baby, I got it
What you need
Do you know I got it?All I’m askin’
Is for a little respect
When you come home
(just a little bit)
Hey, baby
(just a little bit)
When you get home
(just a little bit)
Mister
(just a little bit)I ain’t gonna do you wrong
While you’re gone
Ain’t gonna do you wrong
‘Cause I don’t wannaAll I’m askin’
Is for a little respect
When you come home
(just a little bit)
Baby
(just a little bit)
When you get home
(just a little bit)
Yeah
(just a little bit)

I’m about to give you all of my money
And all I’m askin’ in return, honey
Is to give me my propers
When you get home

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(just a, just a, just a, just a)
Yeah, baby
(just a, just a, just a, just a)
When you get home
(just a little bit)
Yeah
(just a little bit)

Ooh, your kisses
Sweeter than honey
And guess what?
So is my money

All I want you to do for me
Is give it to me when you get home
(re, re, re ,re)
Yeah, baby
(re, re, re ,re)
Whip it to me
(respect, just a little bit)
When you get home, now
(just a little bit)

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Take care, TCB

Oh (sock it to me, sock it to me
Sock it to me, sock it to me)
A little respect
(sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)
Whoa, babe
(just a little bit)
A little respect
(just a little bit)

I get tired
(just a little bit)
Keep on tryin’
(just a little bit)
You’re runnin’ out of foolin’
(just a little bit)
And I ain’t lyin’
(just a little bit)

(re, re, re, re) ‘spect
When you come home
(re, re, re, re)
Or you might walk in
(respect, just a little bit)
And find out I’m gone
(just a little bit)
I got to have
(just a little bit)

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