Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ is a ‘battle cry’ for women: How they turned a cover into an anthem



Singer Aretha Franklin, dies at 76

‘Queen of Soul’ goes away after the battle with the cancer on the pancreas; Fox News looks back at the life and legacy of the music legend.

Aretha Franklin transformed Otis Redding’s “Respect” into a rallying cry for women by making a number of strategic changes in 1965, the original of the texts, including of the add of the iconic bridge: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T / find out what it means to me.”

Redding’s version was the male dominent, with the emphasis on the role of women in a traditional 1960’s household. In the song, Salvation, referred to women as “baby,” “honey” and “girl.” The song, with the voice of a man, ask the women to show respect towards their men after a hard day’s work.

“Hey, girl, you’re so sweeter than honey / And I give you all my money / But I’m askin’, hey Is a little respect when I get home / Hey Hey Hey, yeah now,” Salvation of the lyrics read.


Franklin twisted Salvation meant to the focus on women — particularly those of color — and demanded the respect of men. The funky, horn-led march included back-up vocals of her own sisters, Carolyn and Erma.

“I’m askin’ / Is for a little respect when you get home (just a little bit) / Hey baby (just a little bit) when you get home / (just a little bit) mister (just a little bit),” Franklin’s version states.

The legendary “Queen of Soul” recorded in the Grammy Award-winning hit for Atlantic Records in 1967. The number fell on Valentine’s day and skyrocketed to the top of the charts just four months later.

“The call for respect was a request to ask a question,” Jerry Wexler, who helped Franklin land her deal with Atlantic Records, reportedly said of Franklin’s first Number 1 song. “[It] began as a soul song and wound up as a kind of anthem.”

Franklin said she wanted to “beautify” the modest hit.


“Then she went to the studio, it was all worked out in her head,” Wexler explained. “Otis came to my office just before “Respect” was released, and I played him the tape. He said: “They done took my song.’ He said it benignly, and regret. He knew the identity of the song slipped away from him to her.”

In a 2004 interview with the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, Franklin was asked whether they felt in the ’60s was that they the help of popular music.

“What, especially with ‘Respect,’ that was a rallying cry for the freedom and the many people of different ethnicities proud of that word,” she replied. “It was meaningful for all of us.”

Franklin, who died of advanced pancreatic cancer in her Detroit home on Aug. 16 at the age of 76, will be remembered for her contributions to the civil rights movement, various prices and performance and, of course, her hit songs, including classics such as “Think,” “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Chain of Fools.”

In Franklin’s eyes, but, “Respect” is perhaps her biggest hit.

“Music is my thing, it is who I am. I’m in it for the long term,” she told The Associated Press in 2008. “I’ll be around, singing, ‘What you want, baby I got it.’ Having fun.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jennifer Earl is an SEO editor for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @jenearlyspeakin.

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