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Episode 168 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “I Say a Little Prayer”, and the interaction of the sacred, political, and secular in Aretha Franklin's life and work. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a forty-five-minute bonus episode available, on "Abraham, Martin, and John" by Dion. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources No Mixcloud this week, as there are too many songs by Aretha Franklin. Even splitting it into multiple parts would have required six or seven mixes. My main biographical source for Aretha Franklin is Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin by David Ritz, and this is where most of the quotes from musicians come from. Information on C.L. Franklin came from Singing in a Strange Land: C. L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America by Nick Salvatore. Country Soul by Charles L Hughes is a great overview of the soul music made in Muscle Shoals, Memphis, and Nashville in the sixties. Peter Guralnick's Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom is possibly less essential, but still definitely worth reading. Information about Martin Luther King came from Martin Luther King: A Religious Life by Paul Harvey. I also referred to Burt Bacharach's autobiography Anyone Who Had a Heart, Carole King's autobiography A Natural Woman, and Soul Serenade: King Curtis and his Immortal Saxophone by Timothy R. Hoover. For information about Amazing Grace I also used Aaron Cohen's 33 1/3 book on the album. The film of the concerts is also definitely worth watching. And the Aretha Now album is available in this five-album box set for a ludicrously cheap price. But it's actually worth getting this nineteen-CD set with her first sixteen Atlantic albums and a couple of bonus discs of demos and outtakes. There's barely a duff track in the whole nineteen discs. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript A quick warning before I begin. This episode contains some moderate references to domestic abuse, death by cancer, racial violence, police violence, and political assassination. Anyone who might be upset by those subjects might want to check the transcript rather than listening to the episode. Also, as with the previous episode on Aretha Franklin, this episode presents something of a problem. Like many people in this narrative, Franklin's career was affected by personal troubles, which shaped many of her decisions. But where most of the subjects of the podcast have chosen to live their lives in public and share intimate details of every aspect of their personal lives, Franklin was an extremely private person, who chose to share only carefully sanitised versions of her life, and tried as far as possible to keep things to herself. This of course presents a dilemma for anyone who wants to tell her story -- because even though the information is out there in biographies, and even though she's dead, it's not right to disrespect someone's wish for a private life. I have therefore tried, wherever possible, to stay away from talk of her personal life except where it *absolutely* affects the work, or where other people involved have publicly shared their own stories, and even there I've tried to keep it to a minimum. This will occasionally lead to me saying less about some topics than other people might, even though the information is easily findable, because I don't think we have an absolute right to invade someone else's privacy for entertainment. When we left Aretha Franklin, she had just finally broken through into the mainstream after a decade of performing, with a version of Otis Redding's song "Respect" on which she had been backed by her sisters, Erma and Carolyn. "Respect", in Franklin's interpretation, had been turned from a rather chauvinist song about a man demanding respect from his woman into an anthem of feminism, of Black power, and of a new political awakening. For white people of a certain generation, the summer of 1967 was "the summer of love". For many Black people, it was rather different. There's a quote that goes around (I've seen it credited in reliable sources to both Ebony and Jet magazine, but not ever seen an issue cited, so I can't say for sure where it came from) saying that the summer of 67 was the summer of "'retha, Rap, and revolt", referring to the trifecta of Aretha Franklin, the Black power leader Jamil Abdullah al-Amin (who was at the time known as H. Rap Brown, a name he later disclaimed) and the rioting that broke out in several major cities, particularly in Detroit: [Excerpt: John Lee Hooker, "The Motor City is Burning"] The mid sixties were, in many ways, the high point not of Black rights in the US -- for the most part there has been a lot of progress in civil rights in the intervening decades, though not without inevitable setbacks and attacks from the far right, and as movements like the Black Lives Matter movement have shown there is still a long way to go -- but of *hope* for Black rights. The moral force of the arguments made by the civil rights movement were starting to cause real change to happen for Black people in the US for the first time since the Reconstruction nearly a century before. But those changes weren't happening fast enough, and as we heard in the episode on "I Was Made to Love Her", there was not only a growing unrest among Black people, but a recognition that it was actually possible for things to change. A combination of hope and frustration can be a powerful catalyst, and whether Franklin wanted it or not, she was at the centre of things, both because of her newfound prominence as a star with a hit single that couldn't be interpreted as anything other than a political statement and because of her intimate family connections to the struggle. Even the most racist of white people these days pays lip service to the memory of Dr Martin Luther King, and when they do they quote just a handful of sentences from one speech King made in 1963, as if that sums up the full theological and political philosophy of that most complex of men. And as we discussed the last time we looked at Aretha Franklin, King gave versions of that speech, the "I Have a Dream" speech, twice. The most famous version was at the March on Washington, but the first time was a few weeks earlier, at what was at the time the largest civil rights demonstration in American history, in Detroit. Aretha's family connection to that event is made clear by the very opening of King's speech: [Excerpt: Martin Luther King, "Original 'I Have a Dream' Speech"] So as summer 1967 got into swing, and white rock music was going to San Francisco to wear flowers in its hair, Aretha Franklin was at the centre of a very different kind of youth revolution. Franklin's second Atlantic album, Aretha Arrives, brought in some new personnel to the team that had recorded Aretha's first album for Atlantic. Along with the core Muscle Shoals players Jimmy Johnson, Spooner Oldham, Tommy Cogbill and Roger Hawkins, and a horn section led by King Curtis, Wexler and Dowd also brought in guitarist Joe South. South was a white session player from Georgia, who had had a few minor hits himself in the fifties -- he'd got his start recording a cover version of "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor", the Big Bopper's B-side to "Chantilly Lace": [Excerpt: Joe South, "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor"] He'd also written a few songs that had been recorded by people like Gene Vincent, but he'd mostly become a session player. He'd become a favourite musician of Bob Johnston's, and so he'd played guitar on Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme albums: [Excerpt: Simon and Garfunkel, "I am a Rock"] and bass on Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, with Al Kooper particularly praising his playing on "Visions of Johanna": [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Visions of Johanna"] South would be the principal guitarist on this and Franklin's next album, before his own career took off in 1968 with "Games People Play": [Excerpt: Joe South, "Games People Play"] At this point, he had already written the other song he's best known for, "Hush", which later became a hit for Deep Purple: [Excerpt: Deep Purple, "Hush"] But he wasn't very well known, and was surprised to get the call for the Aretha Franklin session, especially because, as he put it "I was white and I was about to play behind the blackest genius since Ray Charles" But Jerry Wexler had told him that Franklin didn't care about the race of the musicians she played with, and South settled in as soon as Franklin smiled at him when he played a good guitar lick on her version of the blues standard "Going Down Slow": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Going Down Slow"] That was one of the few times Franklin smiled in those sessions though. Becoming an overnight success after years of trying and failing to make a name for herself had been a disorienting experience, and on top of that things weren't going well in her personal life. Her marriage to her manager Ted White was falling apart, and she was performing erratically thanks to the stress. In particular, at a gig in Georgia she had fallen off the stage and broken her arm. She soon returned to performing, but it meant she had problems with her right arm during the recording of the album, and didn't play as much piano as she would have previously -- on some of the faster songs she played only with her left hand. But the recording sessions had to go on, whether or not Aretha was physically capable of playing piano. As we discussed in the episode on Otis Redding, the owners of Atlantic Records were busily negotiating its sale to Warner Brothers in mid-1967. As Wexler said later “Everything in me said, Keep rolling, keep recording, keep the hits coming. She was red hot and I had no reason to believe that the streak wouldn't continue. I knew that it would be foolish—and even irresponsible—not to strike when the iron was hot. I also had personal motivation. A Wall Street financier had agreed to see what we could get for Atlantic Records. While Ahmet and Neshui had not agreed on a selling price, they had gone along with my plan to let the financier test our worth on the open market. I was always eager to pump out hits, but at this moment I was on overdrive. In this instance, I had a good partner in Ted White, who felt the same. He wanted as much product out there as possible." In truth, you can tell from Aretha Arrives that it's a record that was being thought of as "product" rather than one being made out of any kind of artistic impulse. It's a fine album -- in her ten-album run from I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You through Amazing Grace there's not a bad album and barely a bad track -- but there's a lack of focus. There are only two originals on the album, neither of them written by Franklin herself, and the rest is an incoherent set of songs that show the tension between Franklin and her producers at Atlantic. Several songs are the kind of standards that Franklin had recorded for her old label Columbia, things like "You Are My Sunshine", or her version of "That's Life", which had been a hit for Frank Sinatra the previous year: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "That's Life"] But mixed in with that are songs that are clearly the choice of Wexler. As we've discussed previously in episodes on Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, at this point Atlantic had the idea that it was possible for soul artists to cross over into the white market by doing cover versions of white rock hits -- and indeed they'd had some success with that tactic. So while Franklin was suggesting Sinatra covers, Atlantic's hand is visible in the choices of songs like "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "96 Tears": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "96 Tears'] Of the two originals on the album, one, the hit single "Baby I Love You" was written by Ronnie Shannon, the Detroit songwriter who had previously written "I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Baby I Love You"] As with the previous album, and several other songs on this one, that had backing vocals by Aretha's sisters, Erma and Carolyn. But the other original on the album, "Ain't Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around)", didn't, even though it was written by Carolyn: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Ain't Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around)"] To explain why, let's take a little detour and look at the co-writer of the song this episode is about, though we're not going to get to that for a little while yet. We've not talked much about Burt Bacharach in this series so far, but he's one of those figures who has come up a few times in the periphery and will come up again, so here is as good a time as any to discuss him, and bring everyone up to speed about his career up to 1967. Bacharach was one of the more privileged figures in the sixties pop music field. His father, Bert Bacharach (pronounced the same as his son, but spelled with an e rather than a u) had been a famous newspaper columnist, and his parents had bought him a Steinway grand piano to practice on -- they pushed him to learn the piano even though as a kid he wasn't interested in finger exercises and Debussy. What he was interested in, though, was jazz, and as a teenager he would often go into Manhattan and use a fake ID to see people like Dizzy Gillespie, who he idolised, and in his autobiography he talks rapturously of seeing Gillespie playing his bent trumpet -- he once saw Gillespie standing on a street corner with a pet monkey on his shoulder, and went home and tried to persuade his parents to buy him a monkey too. In particular, he talks about seeing the Count Basie band with Sonny Payne on drums as a teenager: [Excerpt: Count Basie, "Kid From Red Bank"] He saw them at Birdland, the club owned by Morris Levy where they would regularly play, and said of the performance "they were just so incredibly exciting that all of a sudden, I got into music in a way I never had before. What I heard in those clubs really turned my head around— it was like a big breath of fresh air when somebody throws open a window. That was when I knew for the first time how much I loved music and wanted to be connected to it in some way." Of course, there's a rather major problem with this story, as there is so often with narratives that musicians tell about their early career. In this case, Birdland didn't open until 1949, when Bacharach was twenty-one and stationed in Germany for his military service, while Sonny Payne didn't join Basie's band until 1954, when Bacharach had been a professional musician for many years. Also Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet bell only got bent on January 6, 1953. But presumably while Bacharach was conflating several memories, he did have some experience in some New York jazz club that led him to want to become a musician. Certainly there were enough great jazz musicians playing the clubs in those days. He went to McGill University to study music for two years, then went to study with Darius Milhaud, a hugely respected modernist composer. Milhaud was also one of the most important music teachers of the time -- among others he'd taught Stockhausen and Xenakkis, and would go on to teach Philip Glass and Steve Reich. This suited Bacharach, who by this point was a big fan of Schoenberg and Webern, and was trying to write atonal, difficult music. But Milhaud had also taught Dave Brubeck, and when Bacharach rather shamefacedly presented him with a composition which had an actual tune, he told Bacharach "Never be ashamed of writing a tune you can whistle". He dropped out of university and, like most men of his generation, had to serve in the armed forces. When he got out of the army, he continued his musical studies, still trying to learn to be an avant-garde composer, this time with Bohuslav Martinů and later with Henry Cowell, the experimental composer we've heard about quite a bit in previous episodes: [Excerpt: Henry Cowell, "Aeolian Harp and Sinister Resonance"] He was still listening to a lot of avant garde music, and would continue doing so throughout the fifties, going to see people like John Cage. But he spent much of that time working in music that was very different from the avant-garde. He got a job as the band leader for the crooner Vic Damone: [Excerpt: Vic Damone. "Ebb Tide"] He also played for the vocal group the Ames Brothers. He decided while he was working with the Ames Brothers that he could write better material than they were getting from their publishers, and that it would be better to have a job where he didn't have to travel, so he got himself a job as a staff songwriter in the Brill Building. He wrote a string of flops and nearly hits, starting with "Keep Me In Mind" for Patti Page: [Excerpt: Patti Page, "Keep Me In Mind"] From early in his career he worked with the lyricist Hal David, and the two of them together wrote two big hits, "Magic Moments" for Perry Como: [Excerpt: Perry Como, "Magic Moments"] and "The Story of My Life" for Marty Robbins: [Excerpt: "The Story of My Life"] But at that point Bacharach was still also writing with other writers, notably Hal David's brother Mack, with whom he wrote the theme tune to the film The Blob, as performed by The Five Blobs: [Excerpt: The Five Blobs, "The Blob"] But Bacharach's songwriting career wasn't taking off, and he got himself a job as musical director for Marlene Dietrich -- a job he kept even after it did start to take off. Part of the problem was that he intuitively wrote music that didn't quite fit into standard structures -- there would be odd bars of unusual time signatures thrown in, unusual harmonies, and structural irregularities -- but then he'd take feedback from publishers and producers who would tell him the song could only be recorded if he straightened it out. He said later "The truth is that I ruined a lot of songs by not believing in myself enough to tell these guys they were wrong." He started writing songs for Scepter Records, usually with Hal David, but also with Bob Hilliard and Mack David, and started having R&B hits. One song he wrote with Mack David, "I'll Cherish You", had the lyrics rewritten by Luther Dixon to make them more harsh-sounding for a Shirelles single -- but the single was otherwise just Bacharach's demo with the vocals replaced, and you can even hear his voice briefly at the beginning: [Excerpt: The Shirelles, "Baby, It's You"] But he'd also started becoming interested in the production side of records more generally. He'd iced that some producers, when recording his songs, would change the sound for the worse -- he thought Gene McDaniels' version of "Tower of Strength", for example, was too fast. But on the other hand, other producers got a better sound than he'd heard in his head. He and Hilliard had written a song called "Please Stay", which they'd given to Leiber and Stoller to record with the Drifters, and he thought that their arrangement of the song was much better than the one he'd originally thought up: [Excerpt: The Drifters, "Please Stay"] He asked Leiber and Stoller if he could attend all their New York sessions and learn about record production from them. He started doing so, and eventually they started asking him to assist them on records. He and Hilliard wrote a song called "Mexican Divorce" for the Drifters, which Leiber and Stoller were going to produce, and as he put it "they were so busy running Redbird Records that they asked me to rehearse the background singers for them in my office." [Excerpt: The Drifters, "Mexican Divorce"] The backing singers who had been brought in to augment the Drifters on that record were a group of vocalists who had started out as members of a gospel group called the Drinkard singers: [Excerpt: The Drinkard Singers, "Singing in My Soul"] The Drinkard Singers had originally been a family group, whose members included Cissy Drinkard, who joined the group aged five (and who on her marriage would become known as Cissy Houston -- her daughter Whitney would later join the family business), her aunt Lee Warrick, and Warrick's adopted daughter Judy Clay. That group were discovered by the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and spent much of the fifties performing with gospel greats including Jackson herself, Clara Ward, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. But Houston was also the musical director of a group at her church, the Gospelaires, which featured Lee Warrick's two daughters Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick (for those who don't know, the Warwick sisters' birth name was Warrick, spelled with two rs. A printing error led to it being misspelled the same way as the British city on a record label, and from that point on Dionne at least pronounced the w in her misspelled name). And slowly, the Gospelaires rather than the Drinkard Singers became the focus, with a lineup of Houston, the Warwick sisters, the Warwick sisters' cousin Doris Troy, and Clay's sister Sylvia Shemwell. The real change in the group's fortunes came when, as we talked about a while back in the episode on "The Loco-Motion", the original lineup of the Cookies largely stopped working as session singers to become Ray Charles' Raelettes. As we discussed in that episode, a new lineup of Cookies formed in 1961, but it took a while for them to get started, and in the meantime the producers who had been relying on them for backing vocals were looking elsewhere, and they looked to the Gospelaires. "Mexican Divorce" was the first record to feature the group as backing vocalists -- though reports vary as to how many of them are on the record, with some saying it's only Troy and the Warwicks, others saying Houston was there, and yet others saying it was all five of them. Some of these discrepancies were because these singers were so good that many of them left to become solo singers in fairly short order. Troy was the first to do so, with her hit "Just One Look", on which the other Gospelaires sang backing vocals: [Excerpt: Doris Troy, "Just One Look"] But the next one to go solo was Dionne Warwick, and that was because she'd started working with Bacharach and Hal David as their principal demo singer. She started singing lead on their demos, and hoping that she'd get to release them on her own. One early one was "Make it Easy On Yourself", which was recorded by Jerry Butler, formerly of the Impressions. That record was produced by Bacharach, one of the first records he produced without outside supervision: [Excerpt: Jerry Butler, "Make it Easy On Yourself"] Warwick was very jealous that a song she'd sung the demo of had become a massive hit for someone else, and blamed Bacharach and David. The way she tells the story -- Bacharach always claimed this never happened, but as we've already seen he was himself not always the most reliable of narrators of his own life -- she got so angry she complained to them, and said "Don't make me over, man!" And so Bacharach and David wrote her this: [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "Don't Make Me Over"] Incidentally, in the UK, the hit version of that was a cover by the Swinging Blue Jeans: [Excerpt: The Swinging Blue Jeans, "Don't Make Me Over"] who also had a huge hit with "You're No Good": [Excerpt: The Swinging Blue Jeans, "You're No Good"] And *that* was originally recorded by *Dee Dee* Warwick: [Excerpt: Dee Dee Warwick, "You're No Good"] Dee Dee also had a successful solo career, but Dionne's was the real success, making the names of herself, and of Bacharach and David. The team had more than twenty top forty hits together, before Bacharach and David had a falling out in 1971 and stopped working together, and Warwick sued both of them for breach of contract as a result. But prior to that they had hit after hit, with classic records like "Anyone Who Had a Heart": [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "Anyone Who Had a Heart"] And "Walk On By": [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "Walk On By"] With Doris, Dionne, and Dee Dee all going solo, the group's membership was naturally in flux -- though the departed members would occasionally join their former bandmates for sessions, and the remaining members would sing backing vocals on their ex-members' records. By 1965 the group consisted of Cissy Houston, Sylvia Shemwell, the Warwick sisters' cousin Myrna Smith, and Estelle Brown. The group became *the* go-to singers for soul and R&B records made in New York. They were regularly hired by Leiber and Stoller to sing on their records, and they were also the particular favourites of Bert Berns. They sang backing vocals on almost every record he produced. It's them doing the gospel wails on "Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms: [Excerpt: Garnet Mimms, "Cry Baby"] And they sang backing vocals on both versions of "If You Need Me" -- Wilson Pickett's original and Solomon Burke's more successful cover version, produced by Berns: [Excerpt: Solomon Burke, "If You Need Me"] They're on such Berns records as "Show Me Your Monkey", by Kenny Hamber: [Excerpt: Kenny Hamber, "Show Me Your Monkey"] And it was a Berns production that ended up getting them to be Aretha Franklin's backing group. The group were becoming such an important part of the records that Atlantic and BANG Records, in particular, were putting out, that Jerry Wexler said "it was only a matter of common decency to put them under contract as a featured group". He signed them to Atlantic and renamed them from the Gospelaires to The Sweet Inspirations. Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham wrote a song for the group which became their only hit under their own name: [Excerpt: The Sweet Inspirations, "Sweet Inspiration"] But to start with, they released a cover of Pops Staples' civil rights song "Why (Am I treated So Bad)": [Excerpt: The Sweet Inspirations, "Why (Am I Treated So Bad?)"] That hadn't charted, and meanwhile, they'd all kept doing session work. Cissy had joined Erma and Carolyn Franklin on the backing vocals for Aretha's "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You"] Shortly after that, the whole group recorded backing vocals for Erma's single "Piece of My Heart", co-written and produced by Berns: [Excerpt: Erma Franklin, "Piece of My Heart"] That became a top ten record on the R&B charts, but that caused problems. Aretha Franklin had a few character flaws, and one of these was an extreme level of jealousy for any other female singer who had any level of success and came up in the business after her. She could be incredibly graceful towards anyone who had been successful before her -- she once gave one of her Grammies away to Esther Phillips, who had been up for the same award and had lost to her -- but she was terribly insecure, and saw any contemporary as a threat. She'd spent her time at Columbia Records fuming (with some justification) that Barbra Streisand was being given a much bigger marketing budget than her, and she saw Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, and Dionne Warwick as rivals rather than friends. And that went doubly for her sisters, who she was convinced should be supporting her because of family loyalty. She had been infuriated at John Hammond when Columbia had signed Erma, thinking he'd gone behind her back to create competition for her. And now Erma was recording with Bert Berns. Bert Berns who had for years been a colleague of Jerry Wexler and the Ertegun brothers at Atlantic. Aretha was convinced that Wexler had put Berns up to signing Erma as some kind of power play. There was only one problem with this -- it simply wasn't true. As Wexler later explained “Bert and I had suffered a bad falling-out, even though I had enormous respect for him. After all, he was the guy who brought over guitarist Jimmy Page from England to play on our sessions. Bert, Ahmet, Nesuhi, and I had started a label together—Bang!—where Bert produced Van Morrison's first album. But Bert also had a penchant for trouble. He courted the wise guys. He wanted total control over every last aspect of our business dealings. Finally it was too much, and the Erteguns and I let him go. He sued us for breach of contract and suddenly we were enemies. I felt that he signed Erma, an excellent singer, not merely for her talent but as a way to get back at me. If I could make a hit with Aretha, he'd show me up by making an even bigger hit on Erma. Because there was always an undercurrent of rivalry between the sisters, this only added to the tension.” There were two things that resulted from this paranoia on Aretha's part. The first was that she and Wexler, who had been on first-name terms up to that point, temporarily went back to being "Mr. Wexler" and "Miss Franklin" to each other. And the second was that Aretha no longer wanted Carolyn and Erma to be her main backing vocalists, though they would continue to appear on her future records on occasion. From this point on, the Sweet Inspirations would be the main backing vocalists for Aretha in the studio throughout her golden era [xxcut line (and when the Sweet Inspirations themselves weren't on the record, often it would be former members of the group taking their place)]: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Ain't Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around)"] The last day of sessions for Aretha Arrives was July the twenty-third, 1967. And as we heard in the episode on "I Was Made to Love Her", that was the day that the Detroit riots started. To recap briefly, that was four days of rioting started because of a history of racist policing, made worse by those same racist police overreacting to the initial protests. By the end of those four days, the National Guard, 82nd Airborne Division, and the 101st Airborne from Clarksville were all called in to deal with the violence, which left forty-three dead (of whom thirty-three were Black and only one was a police officer), 1,189 people were injured, and over 7,200 arrested, almost all of them Black. Those days in July would be a turning point for almost every musician based in Detroit. In particular, the police had murdered three members of the soul group the Dramatics, in a massacre of which the author John Hersey, who had been asked by President Johnson to be part of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders but had decided that would compromise his impartiality and did an independent journalistic investigation, said "The episode contained all the mythic themes of racial strife in the United States: the arm of the law taking the law into its own hands; interracial sex; the subtle poison of racist thinking by “decent” men who deny they are racists; the societal limbo into which, ever since slavery, so many young black men have been driven by our country; ambiguous justice in the courts; and the devastation in both black and white human lives that follows in the wake of violence as surely as ruinous and indiscriminate flood after torrents" But these were also the events that radicalised the MC5 -- the group had been playing a gig as Tim Buckley's support act when the rioting started, and guitarist Wayne Kramer decided afterwards to get stoned and watch the fires burning down the city through a telescope -- which police mistook for a rifle, leading to the National Guard knocking down Kramer's door. The MC5 would later cover "The Motor City is Burning", John Lee Hooker's song about the events: [Excerpt: The MC5, "The Motor City is Burning"] It would also be a turning point for Motown, too, in ways we'll talk about in a few future episodes. And it was a political turning point too -- Michigan Governor George Romney, a liberal Republican (at a time when such people existed) had been the favourite for the Republican Presidential candidacy when he'd entered the race in December 1966, but as racial tensions ramped up in Detroit during the early months of 1967 he'd started trailing Richard Nixon, a man who was consciously stoking racists' fears. President Johnson, the incumbent Democrat, who was at that point still considering standing for re-election, made sure to make it clear to everyone during the riots that the decision to call in the National Guard had been made at the State level, by Romney, rather than at the Federal level. That wasn't the only thing that removed the possibility of a Romney presidency, but it was a big part of the collapse of his campaign, and the, as it turned out, irrevocable turn towards right-authoritarianism that the party took with Nixon's Southern Strategy. Of course, Aretha Franklin had little way of knowing what was to come and how the riots would change the city and the country over the following decades. What she was primarily concerned about was the safety of her father, and to a lesser extent that of her sister-in-law Earline who was staying with him. Aretha, Carolyn, and Erma all tried to keep in constant touch with their father while they were out of town, and Aretha even talked about hiring private detectives to travel to Detroit, find her father, and get him out of the city to safety. But as her brother Cecil pointed out, he was probably the single most loved man among Black people in Detroit, and was unlikely to be harmed by the rioters, while he was too famous for the police to kill with impunity. Reverend Franklin had been having a stressful time anyway -- he had recently been fined for tax evasion, an action he was convinced the IRS had taken because of his friendship with Dr King and his role in the civil rights movement -- and according to Cecil "Aretha begged Daddy to move out of the city entirely. She wanted him to find another congregation in California, where he was especially popular—or at least move out to the suburbs. But he wouldn't budge. He said that, more than ever, he was needed to point out the root causes of the riots—the economic inequality, the pervasive racism in civic institutions, the woefully inadequate schools in inner-city Detroit, and the wholesale destruction of our neighborhoods by urban renewal. Some ministers fled the city, but not our father. The horror of what happened only recommitted him. He would not abandon his political agenda." To make things worse, Aretha was worried about her father in other ways -- as her marriage to Ted White was starting to disintegrate, she was looking to her father for guidance, and actually wanted him to take over her management. Eventually, Ruth Bowen, her booking agent, persuaded her brother Cecil that this was a job he could do, and that she would teach him everything he needed to know about the music business. She started training him up while Aretha was still married to White, in the expectation that that marriage couldn't last. Jerry Wexler, who only a few months earlier had been seeing Ted White as an ally in getting "product" from Franklin, had now changed his tune -- partly because the sale of Atlantic had gone through in the meantime. He later said “Sometimes she'd call me at night, and, in that barely audible little-girl voice of hers, she'd tell me that she wasn't sure she could go on. She always spoke in generalities. She never mentioned her husband, never gave me specifics of who was doing what to whom. And of course I knew better than to ask. She just said that she was tired of dealing with so much. My heart went out to her. She was a woman who suffered silently. She held so much in. I'd tell her to take as much time off as she needed. We had a lot of songs in the can that we could release without new material. ‘Oh, no, Jerry,' she'd say. ‘I can't stop recording. I've written some new songs, Carolyn's written some new songs. We gotta get in there and cut 'em.' ‘Are you sure?' I'd ask. ‘Positive,' she'd say. I'd set up the dates and typically she wouldn't show up for the first or second sessions. Carolyn or Erma would call me to say, ‘Ree's under the weather.' That was tough because we'd have asked people like Joe South and Bobby Womack to play on the sessions. Then I'd reschedule in the hopes she'd show." That third album she recorded in 1967, Lady Soul, was possibly her greatest achievement. The opening track, and second single, "Chain of Fools", released in November, was written by Don Covay -- or at least it's credited as having been written by Covay. There's a gospel record that came out around the same time on a very small label based in Houston -- "Pains of Life" by Rev. E. Fair And The Sensational Gladys Davis Trio: [Excerpt: Rev. E. Fair And The Sensational Gladys Davis Trio, "Pains of Life"] I've seen various claims online that that record came out shortly *before* "Chain of Fools", but I can't find any definitive evidence one way or the other -- it was on such a small label that release dates aren't available anywhere. Given that the B-side, which I haven't been able to track down online, is called "Wait Until the Midnight Hour", my guess is that rather than this being a case of Don Covay stealing the melody from an obscure gospel record he'd have had little chance to hear, it's the gospel record rewriting a then-current hit to be about religion, but I thought it worth mentioning. The song was actually written by Covay after Jerry Wexler asked him to come up with some songs for Otis Redding, but Wexler, after hearing it, decided it was better suited to Franklin, who gave an astonishing performance: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Chain of Fools"] Arif Mardin, the arranger of the album, said of that track “I was listed as the arranger of ‘Chain of Fools,' but I can't take credit. Aretha walked into the studio with the chart fully formed inside her head. The arrangement is based around the harmony vocals provided by Carolyn and Erma. To add heft, the Sweet Inspirations joined in. The vision of the song is entirely Aretha's.” According to Wexler, that's not *quite* true -- according to him, Joe South came up with the guitar part that makes up the intro, and he also said that when he played what he thought was the finished track to Ellie Greenwich, she came up with another vocal line for the backing vocals, which she overdubbed. But the core of the record's sound is definitely pure Aretha -- and Carolyn Franklin said that there was a reason for that. As she said later “Aretha didn't write ‘Chain,' but she might as well have. It was her story. When we were in the studio putting on the backgrounds with Ree doing lead, I knew she was singing about Ted. Listen to the lyrics talking about how for five long years she thought he was her man. Then she found out she was nothing but a link in the chain. Then she sings that her father told her to come on home. Well, he did. She sings about how her doctor said to take it easy. Well, he did too. She was drinking so much we thought she was on the verge of a breakdown. The line that slew me, though, was the one that said how one of these mornings the chain is gonna break but until then she'll take all she can take. That summed it up. Ree knew damn well that this man had been doggin' her since Jump Street. But somehow she held on and pushed it to the breaking point." [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Chain of Fools"] That made number one on the R&B charts, and number two on the hot one hundred, kept from the top by "Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)" by John Fred and his Playboy Band -- a record that very few people would say has stood the test of time as well. The other most memorable track on the album was the one chosen as the first single, released in September. As Carole King told the story, she and Gerry Goffin were feeling like their career was in a slump. While they had had a huge run of hits in the early sixties through 1965, they had only had two new hits in 1966 -- "Goin' Back" for Dusty Springfield and "Don't Bring Me Down" for the Animals, and neither of those were anything like as massive as their previous hits. And up to that point in 1967, they'd only had one -- "Pleasant Valley Sunday" for the Monkees. They had managed to place several songs on Monkees albums and the TV show as well, so they weren't going to starve, but the rise of self-contained bands that were starting to dominate the charts, and Phil Spector's temporary retirement, meant there simply wasn't the opportunity for them to place material that there had been. They were also getting sick of travelling to the West Coast all the time, because as their children were growing slightly older they didn't want to disrupt their lives in New York, and were thinking of approaching some of the New York based labels and seeing if they needed songs. They were particularly considering Atlantic, because soul was more open to outside songwriters than other genres. As it happened, though, they didn't have to approach Atlantic, because Atlantic approached them. They were walking down Broadway when a limousine pulled up, and Jerry Wexler stuck his head out of the window. He'd come up with a good title that he wanted to use for a song for Aretha, would they be interested in writing a song called "Natural Woman"? They said of course they would, and Wexler drove off. They wrote the song that night, and King recorded a demo the next morning: [Excerpt: Carole King, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (demo)"] They gave Wexler a co-writing credit because he had suggested the title. King later wrote in her autobiography "Hearing Aretha's performance of “Natural Woman” for the first time, I experienced a rare speechless moment. To this day I can't convey how I felt in mere words. Anyone who had written a song in 1967 hoping it would be performed by a singer who could take it to the highest level of excellence, emotional connection, and public exposure would surely have wanted that singer to be Aretha Franklin." She went on to say "But a recording that moves people is never just about the artist and the songwriters. It's about people like Jerry and Ahmet, who matched the songwriters with a great title and a gifted artist; Arif Mardin, whose magnificent orchestral arrangement deserves the place it will forever occupy in popular music history; Tom Dowd, whose engineering skills captured the magic of this memorable musical moment for posterity; and the musicians in the rhythm section, the orchestral players, and the vocal contributions of the background singers—among them the unforgettable “Ah-oo!” after the first line of the verse. And the promotion and marketing people helped this song reach more people than it might have without them." And that's correct -- unlike "Chain of Fools", this time Franklin did let Arif Mardin do most of the arrangement work -- though she came up with the piano part that Spooner Oldham plays on the record. Mardin said that because of the song's hymn-like feel they wanted to go for a more traditional written arrangement. He said "She loved the song to the point where she said she wanted to concentrate on the vocal and vocal alone. I had written a string chart and horn chart to augment the chorus and hired Ralph Burns to conduct. After just a couple of takes, we had it. That's when Ralph turned to me with wonder in his eyes. Ralph was one of the most celebrated arrangers of the modern era. He had done ‘Early Autumn' for Woody Herman and Stan Getz, and ‘Georgia on My Mind' for Ray Charles. He'd worked with everyone. ‘This woman comes from another planet' was all Ralph said. ‘She's just here visiting.'” [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"] By this point there was a well-functioning team making Franklin's records -- while the production credits would vary over the years, they were all essentially co-productions by the team of Franklin, Wexler, Mardin and Dowd, all collaborating and working together with a more-or-less unified purpose, and the backing was always by the same handful of session musicians and some combination of the Sweet Inspirations and Aretha's sisters. That didn't mean that occasional guests couldn't get involved -- as we discussed in the Cream episode, Eric Clapton played guitar on "Good to Me as I am to You": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Good to Me as I am to You"] Though that was one of the rare occasions on one of these records where something was overdubbed. Clapton apparently messed up the guitar part when playing behind Franklin, because he was too intimidated by playing with her, and came back the next day to redo his part without her in the studio. At this point, Aretha was at the height of her fame. Just before the final batch of album sessions began she appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, and she was making regular TV appearances, like one on the Mike Douglas Show where she duetted with Frankie Valli on "That's Life": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin and Frankie Valli, "That's Life"] But also, as Wexler said “Her career was kicking into high gear. Contending and resolving both the professional and personal challenges were too much. She didn't think she could do both, and I didn't blame her. Few people could. So she let the personal slide and concentrated on the professional. " Her concert promoter Ruth Bowen said of this time "Her father and Dr. King were putting pressure on her to sing everywhere, and she felt obligated. The record company was also screaming for more product. And I had a mountain of offers on my desk that kept getting higher with every passing hour. They wanted her in Europe. They wanted her in Latin America. They wanted her in every major venue in the U.S. TV was calling. She was being asked to do guest appearances on every show from Carol Burnett to Andy Williams to the Hollywood Palace. She wanted to do them all and she wanted to do none of them. She wanted to do them all because she's an entertainer who burns with ambition. She wanted to do none of them because she was emotionally drained. She needed to go away and renew her strength. I told her that at least a dozen times. She said she would, but she didn't listen to me." The pressures from her father and Dr King are a recurring motif in interviews with people about this period. Franklin was always a very political person, and would throughout her life volunteer time and money to liberal political causes and to the Democratic Party, but this was the height of her activism -- the Civil Rights movement was trying to capitalise on the gains it had made in the previous couple of years, and celebrity fundraisers and performances at rallies were an important way to do that. And at this point there were few bigger celebrities in America than Aretha Franklin. At a concert in her home town of Detroit on February the sixteenth, 1968, the Mayor declared the day Aretha Franklin Day. At the same show, Billboard, Record World *and* Cash Box magazines all presented her with plaques for being Female Vocalist of the Year. And Dr. King travelled up to be at the show and congratulate her publicly for all her work with his organisation, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Backstage at that show, Dr. King talked to Aretha's father, Reverend Franklin, about what he believed would be the next big battle -- a strike in Memphis: [Excerpt, Martin Luther King, "Mountaintop Speech" -- "And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy—what is the other bread?—Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart's bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying, they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right."] The strike in question was the Memphis Sanitation Workers' strike which had started a few days before. The struggle for Black labour rights was an integral part of the civil rights movement, and while it's not told that way in the sanitised version of the story that's made it into popular culture, the movement led by King was as much about economic justice as social justice -- King was a democratic socialist, and believed that economic oppression was both an effect of and cause of other forms of racial oppression, and that the rights of Black workers needed to be fought for. In 1967 he had set up a new organisation, the Poor People's Campaign, which was set to march on Washington to demand a program that included full employment, a guaranteed income -- King was strongly influenced in his later years by the ideas of Henry George, the proponent of a universal basic income based on land value tax -- the annual building of half a million affordable homes, and an end to the war in Vietnam. This was King's main focus in early 1968, and he saw the sanitation workers' strike as a major part of this campaign. Memphis was one of the most oppressive cities in the country, and its largely Black workforce of sanitation workers had been trying for most of the 1960s to unionise, and strike-breakers had been called in to stop them, and many of them had been fired by their white supervisors with no notice. They were working in unsafe conditions, for utterly inadequate wages, and the city government were ardent segregationists. After two workers had died on the first of February from using unsafe equipment, the union demanded changes -- safer working conditions, better wages, and recognition of the union. The city council refused, and almost all the sanitation workers stayed home and stopped work. After a few days, the council relented and agreed to their terms, but the Mayor, Henry Loeb, an ardent white supremacist who had stood on a platform of opposing desegregation, and who had previously been the Public Works Commissioner who had put these unsafe conditions in place, refused to listen. As far as he was concerned, he was the only one who could recognise the union, and he wouldn't. The workers continued their strike, marching holding signs that simply read "I am a Man": [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder, "Blowing in the Wind"] The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the NAACP had been involved in organising support for the strikes from an early stage, and King visited Memphis many times. Much of the time he spent visiting there was spent negotiating with a group of more militant activists, who called themselves The Invaders and weren't completely convinced by King's nonviolent approach -- they believed that violence and rioting got more attention than non-violent protests. King explained to them that while he had been persuaded by Gandhi's writings of the moral case for nonviolent protest, he was also persuaded that it was pragmatically necessary -- asking the young men "how many guns do we have and how many guns do they have?", and pointing out as he often did that when it comes to violence a minority can't win against an armed majority. Rev Franklin went down to Memphis on the twenty-eighth of March to speak at a rally Dr. King was holding, but as it turned out the rally was cancelled -- the pre-rally march had got out of hand, with some people smashing windows, and Memphis police had, like the police in Detroit the previous year, violently overreacted, clubbing and gassing protestors and shooting and killing one unarmed teenage boy, Larry Payne. The day after Payne's funeral, Dr King was back in Memphis, though this time Rev Franklin was not with him. On April the third, he gave a speech which became known as the "Mountaintop Speech", in which he talked about the threats that had been made to his life: [Excerpt: Martin Luther King, "Mountaintop Speech": “And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."] The next day, Martin Luther King was shot dead. James Earl Ray, a white supremacist, pled guilty to the murder, and the evidence against him seems overwhelming from what I've read, but the King family have always claimed that the murder was part of a larger conspiracy and that Ray was not the gunman. Aretha was obviously distraught, and she attended the funeral, as did almost every other prominent Black public figure. James Baldwin wrote of the funeral: "In the pew directly before me sat Marlon Brando, Sammy Davis, Eartha Kitt—covered in black, looking like a lost, ten-year-old girl—and Sidney Poitier, in the same pew, or nearby. Marlon saw me, and nodded. The atmosphere was black, with a tension indescribable—as though something, perhaps the heavens, perhaps the earth, might crack. Everyone sat very still. The actual service sort of washed over me, in waves. It wasn't that it seemed unreal; it was the most real church service I've ever sat through in my life, or ever hope to sit through; but I have a childhood hangover thing about not weeping in public, and I was concentrating on holding myself together. I did not want to weep for Martin, tears seemed futile. But I may also have been afraid, and I could not have been the only one, that if I began to weep I would not be able to stop. There was more than enough to weep for, if one was to weep—so many of us, cut down, so soon. Medgar, Malcolm, Martin: and their widows, and their children. Reverend Ralph David Abernathy asked a certain sister to sing a song which Martin had loved—“Once more,” said Ralph David, “for Martin and for me,” and he sat down." Many articles and books on Aretha Franklin say that she sang at King's funeral. In fact she didn't, but there's a simple reason for the confusion. King's favourite song was the Thomas Dorsey gospel song "Take My Hand, Precious Lord", and indeed almost his last words were to ask a trumpet player, Ben Branch, if he would play the song at the rally he was going to be speaking at on the day of his death. At his request, Mahalia Jackson, his old friend, sang the song at his private funeral, which was not filmed, unlike the public part of the funeral that Baldwin described. Four months later, though, there was another public memorial for King, and Franklin did sing "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" at that service, in front of King's weeping widow and children, and that performance *was* filmed, and gets conflated in people's memories with Jackson's unfilmed earlier performance: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord (at Martin Luther King Memorial)"] Four years later, she would sing that at Mahalia Jackson's funeral. Through all this, Franklin had been working on her next album, Aretha Now, the sessions for which started more or less as soon as the sessions for Lady Soul had finished. The album was, in fact, bookended by deaths that affected Aretha. Just as King died at the end of the sessions, the beginning came around the time of the death of Otis Redding -- the sessions were cancelled for a day while Wexler travelled to Georgia for Redding's funeral, which Franklin was too devastated to attend, and Wexler would later say that the extra emotion in her performances on the album came from her emotional pain at Redding's death. The lead single on the album, "Think", was written by Franklin and -- according to the credits anyway -- her husband Ted White, and is very much in the same style as "Respect", and became another of her most-loved hits: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Think"] But probably the song on Aretha Now that now resonates the most is one that Jerry Wexler tried to persuade her not to record, and was only released as a B-side. Indeed, "I Say a Little Prayer" was a song that had already once been a hit after being a reject. Hal David, unlike Burt Bacharach, was a fairly political person and inspired by the protest song movement, and had been starting to incorporate his concerns about the political situation and the Vietnam War into his lyrics -- though as with many such writers, he did it in much less specific ways than a Phil Ochs or a Bob Dylan. This had started with "What the World Needs Now is Love", a song Bacharach and David had written for Jackie DeShannon in 1965: [Excerpt: Jackie DeShannon, "What the "World Needs Now is Love"] But he'd become much more overtly political for "The Windows of the World", a song they wrote for Dionne Warwick. Warwick has often said it's her favourite of her singles, but it wasn't a big hit -- Bacharach blamed himself for that, saying "Dionne recorded it as a single and I really blew it. I wrote a bad arrangement and the tempo was too fast, and I really regret making it the way I did because it's a good song." [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "The Windows of the World"] For that album, Bacharach and David had written another track, "I Say a Little Prayer", which was not as explicitly political, but was intended by David to have an implicit anti-war message, much like other songs of the period like "Last Train to Clarksville". David had sons who were the right age to be drafted, and while it's never stated, "I Say a Little Prayer" was written from the perspective of a woman whose partner is away fighting in the war, but is still in her thoughts: [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "I Say a Little Prayer"] The recording of Dionne Warwick's version was marked by stress. Bacharach had a particular way of writing music to tell the musicians the kind of feel he wanted for the part -- he'd write nonsense words above the stave, and tell the musicians to play the parts as if they were singing those words. The trumpet player hired for the session, Ernie Royal, got into a row with Bacharach about this unorthodox way of communicating musical feeling, and the track ended up taking ten takes (as opposed to the normal three for a Bacharach session), with Royal being replaced half-way through the session. Bacharach was never happy with the track even after all the work it had taken, and he fought to keep it from being released at all, saying the track was taken at too fast a tempo. It eventually came out as an album track nearly eighteen months after it was recorded -- an eternity in 1960s musical timescales -- and DJs started playing it almost as soon as it came out. Scepter records rushed out a single, over Bacharach's objections, but as he later said "One thing I love about the record business is how wrong I was. Disc jockeys all across the country started playing the track, and the song went to number four on the charts and then became the biggest hit Hal and I had ever written for Dionne." [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "I Say a Little Prayer"] Oddly, the B-side for Warwick's single, "Theme From the Valley of the Dolls" did even better, reaching number two. Almost as soon as the song was released as a single, Franklin started playing around with the song backstage, and in April 1968, right around the time of Dr. King's death, she recorded a version. Much as Burt Bacharach had been against releasing Dionne Warwick's version, Jerry Wexler was against Aretha even recording the song, saying later “I advised Aretha not to record it. I opposed it for two reasons. First, to cover a song only twelve weeks after the original reached the top of the charts was not smart business. You revisit such a hit eight months to a year later. That's standard practice. But more than that, Bacharach's melody, though lovely, was peculiarly suited to a lithe instrument like Dionne Warwick's—a light voice without the dark corners or emotional depths that define Aretha. Also, Hal David's lyric was also somewhat girlish and lacked the gravitas that Aretha required. “Aretha usually listened to me in the studio, but not this time. She had written a vocal arrangement for the Sweet Inspirations that was undoubtedly strong. Cissy Houston, Dionne's cousin, told me that Aretha was on the right track—she was seeing this song in a new way and had come up with a new groove. Cissy was on Aretha's side. Tommy Dowd and Arif were on Aretha's side. So I had no choice but to cave." It's quite possible that Wexler's objections made Franklin more, rather than less, determined to record the song. She regarded Warwick as a hated rival, as she did almost every prominent female singer of her generation and younger ones, and would undoubtedly have taken the implication that there was something that Warwick was simply better at than her to heart. [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Say a Little Prayer"] Wexler realised as soon as he heard it in the studio that Franklin's version was great, and Bacharach agreed, telling Franklin's biographer David Ritz “As much as I like the original recording by Dionne, there's no doubt that Aretha's is a better record. She imbued the song with heavy soul and took it to a far deeper place. Hers is the definitive version.” -- which is surprising because Franklin's version simplifies some of Bacharach's more unusual chord voicings, something he often found extremely upsetting. Wexler still though thought there was no way the song would be a hit, and it's understandable that he thought that way. Not only had it only just been on the charts a few months earlier, but it was the kind of song that wouldn't normally be a hit at all, and certainly not in the kind of rhythmic soul music for which Franklin was known. Almost everything she ever recorded is in simple time signatures -- 4/4, waltz time, or 6/8 -- but this is a Bacharach song so it's staggeringly metrically irregular. Normally even with semi-complex things I'm usually good at figuring out how to break it down into bars, but here I actually had to purchase a copy of the sheet music in order to be sure I was right about what's going on. I'm going to count beats along with the record here so you can see what I mean. The verse has three bars of 4/4, one bar of 2/4, and three more bars of 4/4, all repeated: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Say a Little Prayer" with me counting bars over verse] While the chorus has a bar of 4/4, a bar of 3/4 but with a chord change half way through so it sounds like it's in two if you're paying attention to the harmonic changes, two bars of 4/4, another waltz-time bar sounding like it's in two, two bars of four, another bar of three sounding in two, a bar of four, then three more bars of four but the first of those is *written* as four but played as if it's in six-eight time (but you can keep the four/four pulse going if you're counting): [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Say a Little Prayer" with me counting bars over verse] I don't expect you to have necessarily followed that in great detail, but the point should be clear -- this was not some straightforward dance song. Incidentally, that bar played as if it's six/eight was something Aretha introduced to make the song even more irregular than how Bacharach wrote it. And on top of *that* of course the lyrics mixed the secular and the sacred, something that was still taboo in popular music at that time -- this is only a couple of years after Capitol records had been genuinely unsure about putting out the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows", and Franklin's gospel-inflected vocals made the religious connection even more obvious. But Franklin was insistent that the record go out as a single, and eventually it was released as the B-side to the far less impressive "The House That Jack Built". It became a double-sided hit, with the A-side making number two on the R&B chart and number seven on the Hot One Hundred, while "I Say a Little Prayer" made number three on the R&B chart and number ten overall. In the UK, "I Say a Little Prayer" made number four and became her biggest ever solo UK hit. It's now one of her most-remembered songs, while the A-side is largely forgotten: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Say a Little Prayer"] For much of the
Award winning film maker, John Montoya discusses the 10 part docuseries entitled When the Sound hits the Walls which he is producing . It will feature the Hyde Street Studios, where Rock and Roll Greats like Herbie Hancock, the Headhunters, Creedence Clearwater, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Jefferson Airplane produced iconic hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s. --- Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/james-herlihy/message
DJ Missile stays on target with horrorcore raps from Ill Bill, cinematic bangers by Snowgoons and Substance810, and wild card treats from Adrian Quesada and Jefferson Airplane. Plus a modern funk KO by the Vapor Caves, cosmic jazz trips with Hiroshi Suzuki and Ramsey Lewis, and a brilliant "Ante Up" flip by DJ Nonay. View the full playlist for this show at https://www.wefunkradio.com/show/1174 Enjoying WEFUNK? Listen to all of our mixes at https://www.wefunkradio.com/shows/
This week we look at The Voice in Australia; the Bible in Finland; Banning the Lord's Prayer in Victoria; the EU and freedom of speech; Misinformation; US government tries to silence Twitter; the Hate Police in Britain; 'Punch a Terf' not hate speech; Sound of Freedom; China and CO2; North Korea and Russia; Norway buys up grain; Denmark bans burning the Quran; featuring Peru; SEEK - being patriotic; Alice in Wonderland; Queer nature; Oliver Anthony and Ben Shapiro.with music of John Farnham, Disturbed; Dire Straits; Andre Rieu; Jefferson Airplane; John Rutter; and the Gettys, Shane and Shane
Jorma Kaukonen (Hot Tuna, Jefferson Airplane) joins us onstage at the Fretboard Summit to talk about his love for Flammang acoustic guitars, "the Legendary Typewriter Tape" with Janis Joplin, why he's about to take a break from electric gigs, the status of Fur Peace Ranch, the magic of Jack Casady, "Water Song" "Embryonic Journey," why it's easier to teach songwriting than do it, CBD oil, and so much more. Recorded live at the Fretboard Summit on August 25, 2023. Our next Summit takes place August 22-24, 2024 at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music. Love our podcast and want to support it? Join our Patreon and get episodes ad-free: https://www.patreon.com/Fretboard_Journal Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal and start with our new, 52nd issue: https://shop.fretboardjournal.com/products/fretboard-journal-annual-subscription Get a discounted digital subscription and get our 52nd issue immediately: https://shop.fretboardjournal.com/collections/downloads/products/fretboard-journal-digital-subscription-offer Our Fretboard Summit is taking place August 24-26, 2023 in Chicago. https://fretboardsummit.org/ Our podcast is sponsored by Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar, Peghead Nation (use the promo code FRETBOARD and get your first month free or $20 off any annual subscription); and Stringjoy Strings (get 10% off your order with the FRETBOARD discount code). This episode is also sponsored by iZotope. Use the discount code FRET10 to save 10% off your Izotope order and check out the new updates for Ozone 11 and their vocal software, Nectar 4.
A new two-part docuseries reflects on the musical renaissance that took place in the Bay Area during the late 60's and 70's. Directors Alison Ellwood and Anoosh Tertzakian joins us to discuss the project which features music from artists such as Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Steve Miller, and others. Both parts of "San Francisco Sounds: A Place In Time" are now available to stream on MGM+.
Life of a Bay Area rock Star The Sons of Champlin along with Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Moby Grape created the enduring 1960s San Francisco sound. As the Sons' lead guitarist, Terry Haggerty knows as much about this period in rock-n-roll history as anyone. He joins Larry Mishkin & Rob Hunt to share many behind the scene stories about the music, the bands and the drugs. He also talks about his years of perfecting his cannabis seed stash which led him to launch his cannabis business Hagalicious. Produced by PodConxDeadhead Cannabis Show - https://podconx.com/podcasts/deadhead-cannabis-showLarry Mishkin - https://podconx.com/guests/larry-mishkinRob Hunt - https://podconx.com/guests/rob-huntTerry Haggerty - https://podconx.com/guests/terry-haggertyHagalicious - https://terryhaggerty.com/hagaliciousSons of Champlin - https://www.billchamplin.com/sons-of-champlinJay Blakesberg - https://podconx.com/guests/jay-blakesberg
"Marijuana Magic: Enhancing Exercise and Easing PainLarry Mishkin discusses the debut of the song "Sugaree" by the Grateful Dead, sharing interesting facts about its origins and performance history. Additionally, he presents three stories from Marijuana Moment, highlighting how medical marijuana is linked to reduced pain and lower opioid dependency in chronic pain patients, enhances the runner's high and reduces pain during exercise, and improves the quality of life for military veterans while reducing their prescription drug use. Produced by PodConx Deadhead Cannabis Show - https://podconx.com/podcasts/deadhead-cannabis-showLarry Mishkin - https://podconx.com/guests/larry-mishkinRob Hunt - https://podconx.com/guests/rob-huntJay Blakesberg - https://podconx.com/guests/jay-blakesbergRecorded on Squadcast July 31, 1971: Astronauts Drive on the Moon1971: Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin drive the Lunar Roving Vehicle on the surface of the moon. It's the first off-planet automobile ride. Rumor has it that sometime during the show, Jerry stopped playing, pointed to the moon, and said, “just think, right now there are men sleeping on THAT” Confession, I listened to almost the entire show and was not able to locate that moment so I cannot confirm Jerry said it, but it sounds like something he might say and either way is just another cool Dead story to pass along. INTRO: Sugaree Track No. 3 Start – 1:14 Sugaree" is a song with lyrics by long-time Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and music by guitaristJerry Garcia. It was written for Jerry Garcia's first solo album Garcia, which was released in January 1972. As with the songs on the rest of the album, Garcia plays every instrument himself except drums, played by Bill Kreutzmann, including acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and an electric guitar played through a Leslie speaker. Released as a single from the Garcia album, "Sugaree" peaked at #94 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1972 and was Garcia's only single ever on that chart.The song was first performed live by the Grateful Dead on July 31, 1971, at the Yale Bowl at Yale University,Even though it was on Jerry's solo album, it was clearly a Dead song from the start and here it is debuted by the Dead six months before the Garcia album's release. Maybe not the best version ever, but it is the first. Ultimately played 361 times by the Dead. Last played on July 8, 1995, the penultimate Dead show Always one of good buddy Mikey's favorite Dead songs, “What's shaking Sugaree?”. Shout out to Mikey, Alex, Andy, Lynn, Harold who just saw Tedeschi Truck this past weekend at Red Rocks. My wife and I had to miss it this year, but I know they all rocked out. And, they were joined by Lori and Monte, more good Chicago friends, and Lori was part of the group at the Joanie Jam with Judy and Andy. So lots of great musical cross relationships developing all the time. THAT IS WHY WE GO TO SHOWS! SHOW #1: Mr. Charlie Track No. 4 Start – 1:15 This is also the breakout version of this song. It was played a total of 50 times after its debut on 7/31/71 in New Haven, the same show at which Sugaree debuted. It was played at all 22 shows of the Europe '72 tour, including its last performance on May 26, 1972 at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, the last show of that famous tour. Lyrics by Robert Hunter, music by Pigpen. It was Pig's song and as his time in the band dwindled, so did some of his tunes. No post-Pig resurrection of the song by the band.Never released on a studio album, there are rumors of a planned album following Workingman's and American Beauty that would have included this song as well as Bertha, He's Gone, Loser, Brown Eyed Women, Ramble on Rose, Tennessee Jed, The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion), etc. Might have even been enough tunes for a double album. Story is that the Dead abandoned it when they decided to get out of their Warner Bros. record deal. SHOW #2: Hard to Handle Track No. 12 Start – 1:06 "Hard to Handle" is a 1968 song written by American soul singer Otis Redding along with Al Bell and Allen Jones. Originally recorded by Redding, it was released in 1968 as the B-side to "Amen" (shortly after the singer's sudden death in 1967). The song also appears on the 1968 album The Immortal Otis Redding. Redding's version reached number 38 on the Billboard R&B chart and number 51 on the pop chart.American rock band the Black Crowes covered the song for their 1990 debut album, Shake Your Money Maker, reaching number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 with their rendition.Hard To Handle was performed by the Grateful Dead about 90 times between March 15, 1969 at the Black and White Ball, opened the show with it (The ball is the Bay Area's largest black-tie street party and a tradition since 1956 - a night for high society and just plain folks to mingle in gowns and tuxedoes around Civic Center Plaza to listen to music. ) and August 1971. It was subsequently performed only twice, on December 30 and 31, 1982, with Etta James taking the vocals and support from the Tower of Power horns.Another fun Pig lead that, like most of his other songs, died with him. SHOW #3: Sugar Magnolia Track No. 24 3:10 – 4:23Still relatively new in the Dead's repertoire, I like the musical jam in this version and so does the crowd. We all know the lyrics but it is this kind of jamming that made this a Dead standard and favorite among Deadheads. This version is still early enough that it appears in the middle of the second set, not yet having moved to its almost always spot as a second set closer. Always sad when they get to the obvious set closer, but when it was Sugar Mag we all felt a lot better. Notes from Deadheads mentioned this as one of the highlights of the show. SHOW #4: Darkness Jam Track No. 28 0:56 – 2:06the 'Darkness' jam from the 1969 Youngbloods song, Darkness, Darkness which was done a few times in 1970; the most well-known version is in the 9/19/70 Not Fade Away where it's very clear. (They also do the China Cat riff in that NFA, which they did frequently (and at greater length) in the fall of 1971.). Played 4 times by the Dead in concert. This is the LAST one. Darkness Darkness - Darkness, Darkness" is a song written by Jesse Colin Young in 1969, which has been covered by many artists. Young's band The Youngbloods released a version on their 1969 album Elephant Mountain. They released a version of the song as a single twice: in 1969, which reached #124 on the Billboard chart, and in 1970, which reached #86 on the chart. One of the various themed jams played by the Dead in their early years also including:Feelin' Groovy Jam - is basically four chords based on the 1966 Simon & Garfunkel song, and was frequently done in Dark Stars from '69-'72.Tighten Up Jam - The Tighten Up jam was a very common Latin-style jam theme in 1970. It's often called a proto-Eyes jam since Weir plays two repeating jazzy chords that are rhythmically similar to the opening of Eyes of the World; but they were commonly thought to be from Archie Bell & the Drells' 1968 tune.Mind Left Body Jam: The Mind Left Body jam originated in the Planet Earth Rock n Roll Orchestra (PERRO) sessions (The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra (PERRO) is a nickname given to some artists who recorded together in the early 1970s. They were predominantly members of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young . ), where we can hear an early, faster version of the four descending chords. Paul Kantner took this riff for his 1973 song 'Your Mind Has Left Your Body,' which Garcia played pedal steel on. Garcia in turn adapted it into a Grateful Dead theme, which first showed up on occasion in '72, but started regularly entering the jams in fall '73. It added a transcendental feeling to many shows up through '74Spanish Jam: Weir based the Spanish Jam on the song 'Solea' on Miles Davis' album Sketches of Spain, sometime in late '67 when the Dead started recording Anthem of the Sun. As it was, a little bit of the Spanish Jam actually got on the album, in the form of a short Davis-flavored trumpet break from Phil in the middle of Born Cross-Eyed (after the verse, "Think I'll come back here again, every now and then, from time to time"). For a moment, it seems like Garcia and the band are about to break into the Spanish Jam, but they quickly cut back to the song.... OUTRO: Uncle John's Band Track No. 30 1:28 – 2:44 An early version of an all time classic. Already a crowd favorite, clapping, sing along. Can't go wrong with an Uncle John's Band at the end of a show – actually closed out with Johnny B. Goode – no encore. Other great stories of this show at Yale, runs in with the cops, gate crashers, gallons of electric Kool Aid at the gates. Just another typical Dead show, but at one of the country's most prestigious schools. Even the Ivies loved the Dead. Still working on stories John Mayer says goodbye: “These tours with @deadandcompany exist on an almost otherworldly plane – everyone, on stage and in the crowd, meets up in this shared dream, and on the last night, after the final note is struck, we leave it all on the stage. We bow, we hug, we share our love for one another and then… we disappear. I fly through the dead of night and wake up at home, where my ears ring, my heart sings, and I'm left with this mix of fatigue, joy, accomplishment, and deep appreciation for what I was able to be a part of,” Mayer shared. “I can feel the connected, collective experience of thousands of others who wake up feeling the same. I'll never get over the profound beauty and uniqueness of this, and we'll never in our lifetime see the likes of @bobweir@mickeyhart and @billkreutzmann, playing beyond all perceived limitations and expectations. It's nothing short of remarkable. Thank you one and all for allowing me a seat on this transcendent ride. ” “Dead & Company is still a band – we just don't know what the next show will be,” Mayer wrote on social media. “I speak for us all when I say that I look forward to being shown the next shaft of light… I know we will all move towards it together.”