By Lee Cowan CBS News August 16, 2018, 6:55 PM How Aretha Franklin's "Respect" became one of the greatest songs of all time
LOS ANGELES — "Respect" is more than just a soul track, and it's more than just a scorching anthem. The hit was transformative.
Aretha Franklin spelled it out for everyone everywhere — a song that was for the times, but one that remained as timeless as ever.
"Everybody wanted respect. Who doesn't want respect? You know, children and adults alike. Everybody wanted respect," Franklin told CBS News.
She first recorded the song on Valentine's Day in 1967 when she was still a relatively unknown gospel singer. It went on to become a cultural touchstone, and a mainstay in movies and TV to this day. Rolling Stone called it one of the top five greatest songs of all time.
But here's the thing: "Respect" wasn't entirely Aretha Franklin's. Otis Redding wrote and recorded it first, or at least his version of it.
"I had heard Otis Redding sing it, and I rehearsed it and my sister came by, Carolyn, and she helped me put the background to it, and we came up with the cliché, 'sock it to me,' which became world famous," Franklin said.
Franklin and Redding were friends, but it was hard not to miss the hint of bitterness when Redding performed "Respect" at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
"This love song is a song a girl took away from me… but I'm still going to do it anyway," he said.
In Redding's version, the woman was sitting at home waiting for her man. Franklin turned that on its head. Respect, in her version, was a declaration of independence.
"I was talking about the male-female relationship. The respect part of it became a mantra for the Civil Rights Movement and for people everywhere," Franklin said.
"Respect" is — at its heart — about equality.
More than 50 years later, there still seems a need to do what Aretha Franklin first did all those years ago and spell out what respect really means.
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