Aretha Franklin at 70

Aretha Franklin performs on-stage at a 2008 Los Angeles concert. Photo property of Shea Walsh/AP.


By: Jacob Elyachar


Happy Birthday to the Queen of Soul who turns 70-years-old today!


To help celebrate Aretha’s birthday, has prepared a countdown of her best songs that you should have in your music library.


10. Son of a Preacher Man (1970)


When Aretha Franklin sings a cover of another artist’s song, the original artist will lose that song to her.   One of the tracks of her 1970 album This Girl’s in Love with You was the late Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.”    This song is filled with classic Aretha spunk and also shows off her high register of her voice.


Click here to listen to Aretha’s superb cover of this song:


9. Get It Right (1983)


The late Luther Vandross and his songwriting partner: Marcus Miller wrote the title track of Aretha’s 1983 album.   This song featured an up-tempo dance song that featured an incredible funky instrumental arrangement, a solid vocal performance from the Queen and superb backing vocals.


To listen to “Get It Right,” click here:


8. Freeway of Love (1985)


Aretha scored her fifteenth U.S. Top-10 pop hit with “Freeway of Love.”  This Rock and R&B fusion featured fantastic saxophone solos from the late Clarence Clemons, who took a break helping Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to record his solos that were sprinkled through out this song.


Click here to watch the music video:


7. Rock Steady (1972)


This Aretha-penned track was recorded for her 1972 album: Young, Gifted and Black.  Produced by the production team of Tom Dowd, Arif Mardin and Jerry Wexler, “Rock Steady” featured a piano duet between Franklin and the late Donny Hathaway, who played the electric piano during recording sessions.


To watch Aretha perform “Rock Steady” on Soul Train, click here:


6. Nessun Dorma (1998)


When Luciano Pavarotti fell ill during the 1998 Grammy weekend, the show’s producers asked Aretha Franklin to step in and sing his signature aria.    Aretha infused her signature R&B singing style into this opera classic and her astonishing cover of this song still remains one of the most memorable moments at the Grammy Awards.


Click here to watch this wonderful performance:


5. Natural Woman (1968)


“Natural Woman” was one of the many songs that helped shape Aretha Franklin as a music icon.   Written by Carole King, Gerry Coffin and Jerry Wexler, Aretha expressed her love towards the man in her life and showcased her amazing vocal range.   Numerous artists including Celine Dion, Mary J. Blige and even Rod Stewart covered this song.


In one of her rare sitcom appearances, Aretha performed this hit alongside Candice Bergen in “Murphy Brown.”  Click here to watch this clip:


4. Ain’t No Way (1968)


One of the tracks that was featured on Aretha’s third album for Atlantic Records was “Ain’t No Way.” Her younger sister: the late Carolyn Franklin wrote this song and also performed backing vocals alongside Erma Franklin and Cissy Houston.    “Ain’t No Way” is one of Aretha’s best ballads because it shows off her dynamite vocal range that still entrances audiences everywhere.


To listen to this song, click here:


3.  Chain of Fools (1968)


In addition to producing “Natural Woman” and “Ain’t No Way,” Lady Soul produced another monstrous hit for the Queen of Soul.   Like “Ain’t No Way,” “Chain of Fools” showcased Aretha’s vocal range but it also featured impeccable call-and-response doo-wops from her background singers and a superb arrangement.


To watch Aretha performing this song in the late 1960s, click here:


2. Think (1968)

Aretha co-wrote this hit with Teddy White for her 1968 Aretha Now album.   This song is basically an up-tempo anthem that gave women everywhere courage to stand up and speak their minds.    Several Idol and X Factor contestants have covered “Think” but their covers do not own up to the Queen of Soul’s original.


Aretha appeared in the classic 1980 musical comedy film: Blues Brothers as Mrs. Murphy and performed the song that remains one of the best moments of the film.  Click here to view the scene:


1. Respect (1967)


If you asked anyone to play a song association game and you asked them to name an Aretha Franklin song off the top of their head, chances are they will name Aretha’s signature song: “Respect.”    This song was originally recorded by the late and great Otis Redding in 1965 but he lost this song to “Respect” when her cover went topped both the 1967 R&B Singles Chart and the Billboard Hot 100.


To watch Aretha perform the song live, click here:


I do not own any of these clips that were featured in the article, they belong to Ms. Aretha Franklin, their respective record and motion picture companies.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar