National Obituary Review

DPD Emeritus: Aretha

Comments Off on DPD Emeritus: Aretha 16 August 2018

Choked up and a bit stunned here at the HQ.

I’m about an hour and half into a Spotify binge and it took all my strength to sit up and get this down.

The Queen of Soul. Gone.

I knew things didn’t look good a few days ago when I saw the news about her but how much can you prepare for a thing like this?

My first brush with Aretha was brief. I heard Respect driving around in the car with my parents listening to the oldies station. It sounded good. Real good. But I didn’t really get it then. I was too young.

Later, some time around 15 or so, I caught Aretha’s rendition of The Band’s old standby The Weight. Then it stuck. Being thoroughly ensconced in my Classic Rock Phase the song was familiar but not like I heard it on the radio that time I heard Aretha sing it. The voice I heard kind of made everything go fuzzy for me. Not mentally. I’m talking literally my vision went fuzzy like there was a blip in the cosmos that was happening just for me at that moment. The hairs on my arms stood up and something kind of shifted inside me. The whole feeling was disarming and weird. As a teenager I took to that feeling immediately.

As soon as I could I had my mom drive me to Circuit City so I could try to find a CD with that track on it. As luck would have it right there in the budget bin was Aretha Franklin’s 30 Greatest Hits for $8.99. I was amped. You know those tracks you used to just put on repeat for like 45 minutes and really wear out the song’s welcome in your brain? That’s what I did with The Weight – except it never wore out.

Not really being ‘into music’ I’m sure my parents were probably alarmed to walk by my room and see me lying on the floor, eyes closed with (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman blaring out of my Aiwa stereo. They let it ride though god bless ‘em.

It’s tough to articulate but that was a time in my life when I was just starting to listen to James Brown & Otis Redding. What Aretha brought was different but in the same sphere. Listening to that sound at that point in my life made an awkward teenager think he might know what rhythm felt and tasted like. I’ll never forget it and I’m so, so grateful.

So until further notice the flag will be at half mast here at The Shade HQ. I don’t know how long I’ll be… but if you need me I’ll be takin’ time to make time to lament the Queen of Soul


- who has written 512 posts on The Shade.

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