When it’s all over, who or whatever survives will perhaps look back at whatever it is we’ve done with this planet and all we’ve been given, and they’ll come across the voice of Aretha Franklin. Hopefully, before they get to where our society finds itself today and decide that we deserved whatever it was that ended us, this entity will have a chance to hear “Chain of Fools,” “Respect” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” And in the final analysis, they will know, as did we, that nothing compares to the Queen of Soul.
She could demand attention with this flawless and fiery voice—equally strong, vulnerable and beautiful at once. She also had a reputation for commanding the respect she would perhaps become most famous for singing about. “Respect” was not just a song but a huge song, because it was clear through the fearless confrontation in her voice that she meant what she sang. More than just a great vocalist, Aretha Franklin was one of history's greatest singers because she could be taken seriously, simply by singing a song. It made her biggest records much more real than any token "soundtrack" of a certain time or place in American history. It was just pure authentic backbone, backed up by harmony, melody, rhythm and feeling, delivered with the kind of confidence you can only have when you know in your heart and soul no one can do it better.
This was the power of one lady, whose name translates to “beauty,” “virtuous” and “excellent” in Greek and Arabic. Her musical legacy will be difficult, if not impossible, to match because it is defined not simply by sound or vocal power, or the study of music theory, but by the soul from which it comes, and the souls to whom it speaks.
When you hear “Respect,” you realize you, too, should demand it from whoever is keeping it from you.