Two Aretha Videos

Fenster writes:

Like a lot of people, I expect, I first heard Aretha Franklin’s voice when I first heard the song Respect.  And like a lot of people, I expect, the first hearing of that song was one of the important “holy shit” moments when you realize you are hearing something you’ve never heard before, and are witnessing greatness.

Aretha remained great over the years, and I got a kick out of her at many points along the way, including her raucous video of Pink Cadillac.  But for the most part the classics like Respect, Chain of Fools and Natural Woman were the songs that played over and over in my mental jukebox.

An old friend sent me two videos of Aretha yesterday.  They are extraordinary.  I had not seen either before, and they are well worth your time if you are a fan.

They are in some ways a pair of bookends to her amazing career. In the first, from very early on, she and Ray Johnson sing Mockingbird.  He is great; she is great.  Then suddenly-bang! just like that–she gets even greater.  She can’t contain her talent, her voice, her enthusiasm.  A perfect performance of a perfect song for her at that moment, one that permitted her to combine her artistry with a kind of saucy innocence and charm.

The second is a 2015 performance for the Pope of Nessun Dorma.  This is altogether a more sober piece, suitable for a career nearing its end.  All I can say is Holy Mother of Jesus.


About Fenster

Gainfully employed for thirty years, including as one of those high paid college administrators faculty complain about. Earned Ph.D. late in life and converted to the faculty side. Those damn administrators are ruining everything.
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5 Responses to Two Aretha Videos

  1. JV says:

    I have nothing original to say about Aretha. She was an absolute titan of American music, one of the few artists of whom everyone can agree was the greatest at what she did, up until the end of her life. For instance, her performance of Natural Woman at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors is stunning. Not just her singing, but her stage presence. She starts at the piano, then after the second chorus, stands up. It must be noted, she’s wearing a ridiculously luxurious fur coat. After the bridge, as she goes into the final chorus, she takes off the coat, revealing her 70+ year old body. She’s utterly glorious. It’s a stunning moment. The Obamas are shown weeping. The crowd is standing. Carol King, the songwriter, is beside herself. There will never be another like Aretha.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. peterike says:

    Ehh. I never got the Aretha thing. For me, she’s just another black lady singer who shouts too much. I find her irritating after about two songs. Everything always has to go to 11.

    Apparently I’m the only one who thinks this way.


    • Fenster says:

      I am sure there are a few others. Don’t make you evil. De gustibus.


    • JV says:

      I get it. I think she’s a genius, but honestly, I can only listen to a few of her songs in a row. FWIW, she doesn’t shout all the time, many of her performances are quiet and tender. It’s just that the grandiose performances are usually what people link to.


  3. Hugh Mann says:

    At my English school all us hip fifth-formers were into The Blues – as translated by English bands – John Mayall, Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack. But the hipsters above us, two or three years older, were all into Aretha and Ray Charles. I guess we were just too young …


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