Posts Tagged ‘Knew You Were Waiting’

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How many times have you danced to “Respect”? How many times have you thrilled to hear Aretha say “I tell you girls,” even if you aren’t a girl? And how many times have you gone to YouTube to watch not The Blues Brothers but that scene in the café where Aretha performs “Think”?

(Also the scene in Bob’s Country Bunker.)

How did you answer these questions, and why should I care? Aretha Franklin is dead. I expected the planet to stop spinning.

What do I say about a woman who’s been singing the story of the human race since I was old enough to know what singing was?

All I can do is what I always do: Listen.

In Aretha’s honor, today I tried out two surveys of her career.

The Queen in Waiting: The Columbia Years 1960-1965
2002

Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of Aretha Franklin 1980-1998
2012

I recommend both. The Queen in Waiting shows how Columbia Records and her manager (her first husband) couldn’t figure out what to do with her. Even so, at times she blasts off this platter: “Hands Off,” “Today I Sing the Blues,” “Walk on By” (1,000 times better than the Isaac Hayes version), and “Evil Gal Blues.”

Knew You Were Waiting has several problems, Elton John and Michael MacDonald among them, but this disc also has “Get It Right,” “Freeway of Love,” and “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” I don’t even mind puny Michael Bolton in their title-song duet. Plus the record ends with “A Rose Is Still a Rose,” Aretha’s collaboration with Lauryn Hill, the farthest she ever got with hip-hop (a lot farther than she got with disco).

You cannot think about Aretha Franklin without thinking about God, getting it on, and the greatest parties you’ve ever hosted, guested, or crashed. Triple crown. Rest in peace.