Otis Redding wrote and recorded the song “Respect” in 1965. It’s a song about a man asking the woman he’s in a relationship with to respect him.
When Aretha Franklin recorded it just two years later, it took on a different attitude — that of a confident woman asserting her need to be respected as a person. The sound of this song as she sang it went along with and amplified not only the Civil Rights Movement but also the feminist movement (which led to the creation of the Equal Rights Amendment) of the 1960s.
Because the song was so catchy, powerful, and timely, it was popular all around the world — many people got to hear Franklin proudly declaring her rights. When the Detroit Free Press interviewed her about the Civil Rights Movement she said, “I don’t think it’s bold at all. I think it’s quite natural that we all want respect—and should get it.”
Franklin won two Grammy Awards for the song, and it’s regularly included lists of the best or most influential lists (here, here, and here).
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