Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Respect

Written and originally recorded by Otis Redding (1965).
Hit version by Aretha Franklin (US #1/UK #10 1967).

From the wiki: “Essentially a ballad, ‘Respect’ was written by Otis Redding for Speedo Sims, who intended to record it with his band, the Singing Demons, 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.)

“It was producer Jerry Wexler who 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 Pop crossover hit and that it would be a perfect vehicle to demonstrate Franklin’s vocal talent.

“Even Otis Redding himself was impressed with the performance of the song. At the Monterey Pop Festival (1967), 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’.

“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 comes home (‘respect’ being a euphemism). 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.”

Aretha Franklin, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” (1967):

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