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God Rest Her Soul

There would be no Chump Lady without Aretha Franklin. I don’t know what the soundtrack of your grief and triumph was, but mine was — and has always been — Aretha Franklin.

She was local royalty. I’m a fifth-generation Detroiter (now expat) and Aretha has always seemed a part of the firmament. I remember her in the Thanksgiving Day parade, astride a golden LP, waving to her subjects — the Queen.

I don’t know when I first started loving her. Junior high school? But my love was fervent and committed. Once I could drive, I’d go to Sam’s Jams in Ferndale (this is how old I am — we used to have to WORK for our music, kids!) and buy her gospel on Checkers. Her jazz on Columbia. Her early Atlantic stuff. Fourteen year old Aretha, singing “Precious Lord Take My Hand.” Aretha’s tribute to Dinah Washington (a friend of the family’s). Aretha singing “Sweet Bitter Love.”

Like all great artists, she made the universal personal. I felt she was MINE. No one understood Aretha the way I understood Aretha. No one loved her with the same passion.

I see how absurd this is, because obviously millions of people loved her too, judging by the 24/7 tribute stream — so please indulge me in another tribute.

I want to tell you how radical Aretha Franklin was to me. And how preposterous it could’ve been that I loved her at all as a young kid.

The Detroit area I grew up in had its apartheids. Those divisions were made popular with “8 Mile” (the street where Detroit begins and the suburbs end). I grew up around 13 Mile Rd., to give you an idea of my proximity. There were the white collar/blue collar divides and there were racial divides.

I didn’t grow up in a house with Motown, or soul, or one sound that was even slightly funky. I grew up WASP. With protestant hymns. Classical music. And if we were feeling really freaky — Broadway show tunes.

WASPy people don’t emote. They don’t fall into swoons in church. They don’t experience ecstasy. They write thank you notes.

Aretha rocked my world. Here was a woman utterly in command of herself, yet flagrantly emotional. Defiant. Vulnerable.

Watch this:

Aretha did pain. She didn’t excuse it. She didn’t hide it under a napkin on her lap. She made art out of it.

A British friend once said to me, “I don’t know how you listen to all that Aretha Franklin. It just sounds like screaming to me.”

Of course I thought this person was an idiot. But then I thought, well, maybe she is screaming. She just transmuted a scream into an aria.

God knows the woman had a lot to scream about. Put aside being a black woman of her generation, Aretha Franklin knew grief. Jerry Wexler, the founder of Atlantic Records, called Aretha “Our Lady of Mysterious Sorrows.”

“Her eyes are incredible, luminous eyes covering inexplicable pain. Her depressions could be as deep as the dark sea. I don’t pretend to know the sources of her anguish, but anguish surrounds Aretha as surely as the glory of her musical aura.”

I don’t know the source of Aretha Franklin’s anguish. But let’s report just a few facts we know about her life.

Her father Rev. C.L. Franklin was a famed preacher, orator, and civil rights leader. He was also a serial cheater and, can we say this? Pedophile. He fathered a daughter with Mildred Jennings, a 12-year-old parishioner.

Aretha Franklin also had a child at age 12 — she named him “Clarence” after her father. And another child at 14.

It’s been speculated that her father was the father of her oldest son, but apparently she later named schoolmates as the fathers. Whatever the story, two children in your early teens is plenty of hardship for one life. She later went on to have two more sons, and two failed marriages, one with a wife beater.

She didn’t curl up and die. She created. She was coronated — The Queen of Soul.

For this WASPy Midwestern kid, she made it okay to scream. To defy. To wear strapless dresses over the age of 50. To give zero fucks. If Aretha Franklin felt pain, she was just going to wrap a full-length mink coat around it and face that audience.

And you can all stand up and applaud her. God save the Queen. God rest her soul.

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  • Awesome tribute! You expressed how her music released emotions. What a gift and she was so generous to share it. Thank you!

    • Love it. But i have mixed feelings on this. Ex fucktard ruined a perfectly great artist by putting one of her tracks on his dial tone for me (you better think…) so that everyone within earshot could see his horrible nagging wife was again extinguishing the life out of him. The crazy bit was he used to text me first to ask me to call HIM!!. So when the legendary a franklin sounded on his phone it was code for bitch wife is crushing the heros spirit again….. RIP

      • I was sobbing watching this.
        Aretha Franklin was sexually abused. You cannot give permission to have sex that young. Then it happened again. She lost her mother. She was Black in a country that did not honor that. All her losses and yet she was Aretha and that is everything.

  • My crazy triangulated connection with KK and Aretha —

    In late 1973 (I was 9), Aretha’s “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” was released and reached #3 nationally, but didn’t get very much airplay on the Top 40 AM station I listened to in Boston. I really liked it, but it came and went quickly at a time when the Carpenters and Charlie Rich were dominating the charts. In time I forgot all about it.

    Fast forward to 1996, I’m on one of my early dates with KK (who is 8 years younger than I am), she’s driving and pops an Aretha’s Greatest tape into the player, this song comes on, and she says, “Oh, I like this.” I make a huge deal about how much I liked this song as a kid, haven’t heard it in years, etc. and I thought “Hmm, this is a sign of good things to come.”

    Chilling now how the lyrics point to the centrality KK so desperately craves:

    “Although your phone you ignore
    Somehow I must explain
    I’m gonna rap on your door
    Tap on your window pane
    I’m gonna camp on your step
    Until I get through to you
    I’ve got to change your view baby
    ‘Till you come back to me
    That’s what I’m gonna do”

    Of course, she doesn’t want me “bsck to her” in the literal sense. She wants me back in the way all narcs want back their chumps back — remembering only the flashes of “good” in the relationship, ignoring the abuse, accepting all flattery and deference, and giving only crumbs in return.

    But I’ve accepted that she’ll keep at it, “until she gets through to me” that the mask is what’s real, not what lies beneath it.

  • Esctasy and handwritten thank you notes can go hand in hand!

    I know it’s off-topic but I believe everyone should write thank you notes. Just ask my sons about the 3 paragraph minimum rule for thank you notes (my son wrote his wedding thank you notes ????)

    • I agree Rebecca. I went to a graduation party a few years back and what they did was when people left – the graduate handed a rolled up piece of paper with a “Thank you for coming to my grad party” note. I thought to myself “Is this the “Thank-You” card?” It was. I thought that was quite tacky to not write and send out personalized thank-you cards….
      It’s like people ‘inviting’ me to a baby shower through facebook. (Me and everyone else who is a fb friend). I won’t go and I won’t give them a gift. If I receive a personal invitation, then I will attend and/or give a gift.
      Sorry – got a little carried away off subject.

    • Hmmm. I guess like so many outward things that potentially represent inner decency (religiosity, etc) things like thank you notes can either be legit or they can be camouflage for someone wanting to appear legit. The public image of decency of my MIL consists solely of: famously punctual handwritten thank you notes, food gifts at times of a death, a car never more than four years old (washed twice per week), and a kind of down-to-earth salty sass – you know, a “no-bullshit-I’m-not-one-of-those-fussy-society-women” schtick she engages in with the hired help who wait on her as she “lunches” and plays mahjong at the club for six hours a day every day. No shit. Six hours per day. These few things convince the majority of others that she’s a well-off but nonetheless unpretentious, authentic and caring person. Salt of the earth. But really, there’s actually is nothing else to her. She orchestrates her entire day around nothing but her own selfish comfort and would never actually help anyone in any real need. Wait, I take that back…she does keep a few bumper sticker maxims on hand to serve as helpful investment in another’s difficulties…”It takes two to tangle” or “Nobody’s perfect” or “You do the best you can with kids and then you just have accept you can’t do any more” and so on.

      I think the notes and food are brilliant actually. They appear to speak such a message of connection privately, so they must be authentic, right? They create a lasting impression too. Something you won’t have to actively add to daily for it to persist in the mind of the recipient. No one expects more than one such act in any period of time. And best of all, they require so little time or effort. There’s no chance you’ll get stuck in a messy long term situation. There’s a fairly predictable start and stop to the time requirement. The payback to effort ratio is huge.

      You can offer these simple things (but do it well) and people will come think they really know you. They’ll think they’ve had a private experience with the “true blue” part of you. The loyal “friend”.

      Never mind that this woman is a parasite whose strictly mercenary view of marriage was indoctrinated into BPD diagnosed daughters after she herself married materially comfortably a fellow narc who perversely sexualises little girls and keeps female mannequins dressed and posed in his basement (three of them, and he has three daughters…creepy much?) Never mind that she went to play mahjong first before visiting, around dinner time, her daughter who had been placed in a 72-hour psych ward lock up for suicidality the night before. What does the etiquette handbook say about visiting your children in a psych ward? Never mind that she used to send her high school daughter on weekends out of town to stay with an out of college golf instructor “boyfriend”. Out from under foot at least. Never mind that she gaslit her daughter when her daughter secured a therapist, at her father’s request, to help deal with his sexual perversions. Never mind that she blamed her daughter’s alcoholism on me, and denied her daughter when asked to acknowledge her bulimia. Never mind that she would have bonding motherly conversations with her daughter, sharing the juicy details of her daughter’s serial cheating.

      I have tons of these telling anecdotes, but never mind because…well, she writes the nicest thank you notes and that’s all anyone knows about.

      • I initially thought the “thank you note tangent” was ill-fitting for this discussion, but if something triggers us to better understand the abuse we suffered then maybe its good to have a safe rabbit hole to dive down and process our shit.

        Yes, some really dreadful people do outwardly decent things to hide their ugliness. My mom was a thank you note writer and would drone on for days if she didnt receive a TY note she felt was due her. She also feigned a “salt of the earth” persona to the people who would bring her cocktails while she found some new method of avoiding work.

        She found out that my brother was flying some food to a Carribean island after a disaster and she told him to stuff bags with newspaper and put the food on top then call the newspaper to have them do a story on his humanitarian trip.

        I dont own an Aretha CD (and I do write thank you notes) but I TOTALLY get CLs message…the dignity of a woman who was terribly hurt and downtrodden but chose to break out of it in a big big way to create anthems for the hurting – so much so that she likely saved people and that is something to stop and honor.

      • I’m a thank you note writer myself, but I totally get what you’re saying. My ex MIL was like yours – all form and no substance. Very big on etiquette not so much on real kindness. She once chided me for doing volunteer work in my children’s school and in my church. She said it was a waste of time to do things you weren’t getting paid to do.

    • Not off-topic, at all. It’s trendy to damn WASP culture with faint praise while lauding things like ecstasy and swooning in church. Me? I’m of the “play your negative emotions close to your chest, turn up for funerals, pay your bills on time, and ~ yes ~ write thank you notes” variety. My ex likes to show how “woke” he is by sneering at my culturally-engrained, deeply-cherished WASPiness. His current squeeze is blingy and histrionic: a sexy change from boring old me, apparently.

      As TKO points out, writing thank you notes ~ or behaving nicely in any way ~ can be adopted by narcs but that is no reason to not behave nicely, or to not appreciate lovely behaviour in others. Aretha, I could take or leave but trying to do the right thing day-in, day-out when others tell you it’s so boring and old-school… that, I can’t live without.

      • Wow, we’ve got quite a thank you note sub-thread. For the record I AM PRO THANK YOU NOTE. It was a throwaway line about being proper. I’m all for gratitude and nice stationary. I use cloth napkins. I enjoy English boys choirs. I’m so white, I’m translucent.

        I’m not dissing my um, heritage. I’m just saying it’s many things, but it’s not funky. It does not emote.

        I didn’t even work in hand bell choir.

        • Consider this my thank you note, CL, for your tribute to Aretha. Why, why, why is my favourite Aretha tune “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”, and yet I just accepted absolutely none from my ex? I gotta go buy me an Aretha album (yes, a long-playing record!), and listen to her again and re-learn the lessons she taught. I’m an introverted, napkin-folding (I have an instruction book) WASP with liberal parents, brought up on Tom Lehrer, used to blast Janis Ian’s “Society’s Child” in my room as my anthem, a wanna-be rebel, and was exposed to any type of music. My record collection is organized by genre, dontcha know. I was the most anal-retentive wild child you’d ever encounter, a walking dichotomy.

          I love your throwaway lines … this one today made me laugh at myself.

          • My kid performed Lender’s “Poisoning Pigeons In The Park” at a middle school talent show. Wearin a boa.

            Thanks for reminding me of that memory!

    • I get both sides of the thank you note debate. When I was young, I wasn’t very good about writing thank you notes. When I was in college, my grandfather sent me a large check for my birthday. Being a busy student I neglected to send a thank you note and I neglected to even cash/deposit it. After a couple of months my parents called me to tell me that my grandfather was concerned that I might not have received it and should he cancel the check. Oops. I immediately sent a thank you note and an apology. From then on I have always written thank you notes to show that the gift was appreciated and, in the case of gifts received through the mail, that they were in fact received. I now recognize it as common courtesy. On the other hand, I have seen people go ballistic at not receiving than you notes and that can go too far as well. My aunt in law is adamant about the need to receive thank you notes for her gifts. My sister in law is, unfortunately, not so good about writing them (busy mom of two young kids with a Dad who travels a lot for work). I understand this about her so when I send her a gift, I know not to expect a thank you note. I don’t need it (although I might send a text to make sure it was received if need be). My aunt, in law, however, is constantly sending her gifts and constantly being peeved at not receiving a thank you note. This happens over and over again. I have tried to explain to her that she simply isn’t going to get one and if it bothers her she should stop sending gifts. Honestly my sister in law wishes she would stop sending gifts so that she wouldn’t feel obligated to send a thank you (she does sometimes send them because she knows she will be on the “naughty” list if she doesn’t, but she would prefer to just not receive the gifts). I get along fine with both of them (I always send thank you notes and make my kids do the same), but I am starting to see a resemblance to ex’s tendency to insist on doing unsolicited nice things for people and then being upset at the lack of adequate thanks and praise.

      • I always thought the policy on thank you notes was that you sent them if you did not receive the gift in person. If the person gave you the gift, and you told them Thank You in person that was the end of it. But maybe graduations, showers, etc. are an exception.

  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T – it’s what we all want and what we all deserve. She really earned it. Thank you Aretha for being someone we can all look up to and admire. RIP

  • Listened on NPR to a 9hr tribute of all her power yesterday. All gold. Queen of our souls.

    “…There was the fence that held our love,
    There was the gate that he walked out of
    This is the heart that is turned to stone
    This was the house, but it ain’t no home
    This is the love that I once had
    In a dream that I thought was love,

    I got the house
    I got the car
    I got the rug
    And I got the rack
    But I ain’t got Jack”

    And “Through many dangers…”(Amazing Grace), I am so happy, and truly blessed that the “Jack” in my life is gone.

  • Listen to her song “Think” one of the few she wrote herself. Especially her emphasis on the word “Freedom.” ❤️❤️

    • @Ali: Right on. “Think” was my fave song of hers, and little did I know how much it would come to resonate with me. Thanks for pointing out the mightiness of that song among songs!

    • The version of this song that she did in the movie The Blues Brothers is classic. Love all her music. She was absolutely amazing.

  • I remember Aretha belting out RESPECT as a young girl. I loved it then and I love it now. I grew up near the Cleveland, Ohio area and the ONE AND ONLY station we played was CKLW out of the Motor City! Great memories and I still love listening to Aretha Franklin. Truly a Queen in many ways. I never, ever heard bad press about her abusing her stature in the music industry. God knows she could have! A truly talented singer, musician and songwriter. I will truly miss her!

  • RIP Aretha. I too enjoyed her music. She will be missed. Not just one artist got me through my dark time. I would listen to all different music. My favorite to listen to was Time For Me To Fly, by Reo Speed Wagon.

  • RIP Aretha. Yes, she was the Queen and the boys at the Pearly Gates better be lined up to pay her homage (Count Basie, Prince, Michael Jackson, Elvis, James Brown, etc.) or she will scorch them with her gaze!

    • Did you see the cartoon (currently floating around on Facebook) that shows almost exactly what you described (though I think substitute Duke Ellington for James Brown)?

  • RIP Aretha. The thing I love most about her is that her grief, whatever it’s source, was not endured, it was raged against. However weak she felt inside, she came across as strength personified. God bless her for giving pain such a beautiful voice.

    • “…her grief, whatever its source, was not endured, it was raged against.” Thanks, Aretha, for giving us permission to rage and thank you, Beth, for putting it in such powerful words. May the Queen rest in peace.

  • She was SuperWoman with a costume. A true soul. All women but with that VOICE. Will so miss her. RIP beautiful angel.

  • Aretha sang through the pain and she gave voice to moving beyond it. She knew who she was, the Queen of Soul, and made damn sure everyone else knew, too. For me, one of her most telling acts of character was when, while in the midst of her own painful struggle against the cancer that killed her, she performed at a concert put together by Elton John to raise money for his HIV/AIDS charity.

    Aretha did not run from adversity. She kicked its ass. She endured so much loss in her life, but she never let it defeat her. I absolutely love watching the interviews with her, where she handles any question thrown at her like a boss. Her performance at President Obama’s inauguration still brings tears to my eyes. For those of us here, she taught us to be no one’s chump. RESPECT should be our anthem. We deserve it as much as she did.

    • My sentiment, too Idle Hands; thanks, CL!!

      You gotta R-E-S-P-E-C-T a woman who gives zero fucks. And love an artist who can sing like an angel and emote like a badass.

  • I always appreciated Aretha’s songs, its a shame she had to suffer. We will never find out the truth of her childhood probably.

  • If you hadn’t written a tribute for her I would have been deeply disappointed with you.

    Will you be going to her memorial exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery this weekend?

  • Aretha reaches right into your heart, it’s amazing! I kept crying over the loss yesterday, but she had a badass life, so really shouldn’t cry. I wish she could have been here, and healthy, for another decade or two.
    I just LOVED that song Daydreaming and I’m thinking of you!! So sweet. Goddess bless, we loved you Queen!

  • Aretha can be a role model to chumps:

    In 1993 New York writer Liz Smith wrote: “[Aretha Franklin] must know she’s too bosomy to wear such clothing, but she just doesn’t care what we think, and that attitude is what separates mere stars from true divas.”

    The Queen dared to wear a bustier in public!

    Aretha responded to whatsername: “How dare you be so presumptuous at to presume you could know my attitudes with respect to anything other than music,” she wrote. “Obviously I have enough of what it takes to wear a bustier and I haven’t had any complaints, I’m sure if you could you would. When you get to be a noted and respected fashion editor please let us all know.”

    “You are hardly in any position to determine what separates stars from divas since you are neither one or an authority on either.”


  • I need some Aretha anger today. Had the house closing with the X. A few weeks ago, he told me that I didn’t have to pay him back for the attorney fees (my half is $425) even though it was stipulated in the divorce decree. We had agreed that I would pay him for 1/2 of the improvement materials ($350) which I did.

    I get to the closing to find out that I am paying for 1/2 of the attorney fees. The title lady looked at me and explained what was happening, and asked me if it was OK. I could tell by the look in her eye that she was feeling some compassion for me. I was strong and said in a confident voice, “that it was OK:”. Instead I was raging and yet again hurt that he could not give me even that last piece of kindness. He was sitting right beside me and I wanted to bring down both of my arms on top of his bald head. He truly is a bad person.

    • Another reminder of why you are well rid of the prick. So happy for you that the trash is taken out!

  • She had been put down, way down, but she came up and strutted her stuff. God bless her! What an example about doing it right.

    Did someone mention that the song ‘Respect’ was written for a male singer! And she decided she would sing it as a female artist!!

    • Written for Otis Redding to preach patriarchy yet Aretha ran with it !

      • I don’t think it’s patriarchy to preach respect. But I might be blinded by my love of Otis Redding.

  • My X-slut sneaked “thank you” notes in to my lunch box in the morning with “Thank you for everything you do for this family. You are a blessing in my life. Love you so much.”, while in the afternoon she would sneak in to cheap hotel rooms to fuck her ho-worker, who is a serial cheater himself. He made her feel “desired” while I was working my ass off to pay the bills.

    Fuck “thank you” notes!

    They only do it because it makes them feel good and they can tell themselves and everybody else around them how nice they are. Because a person who writes “thank you” notes can’t possibly lie, deceive and fuck her ho-workers in hotels and parking lots.

      • My point was that shitty people write “thank you” notes all the time. IT doesn’t mean a thing.

  • She was the ????Queen????and kept my head above the sludge when I was in hell.

    Peace be with you, Aretha.

    Nice tribute, Tracy.

  • No one has mentioned her song “Chain of Fools” which was also written for a man voice)Otis Redding)by a man but recorded by Aretha.
    She sang about Chumps and made chumpdom cool long before it was even a “thing”
    God Rest the true Queen of Soul.

    • Cheater loved her music when we were teens in the 80s. Too bad her message didn’t shape him into a better character. But his son and daughters will be. I’m making sure of that.
      Yesterday morning I cried out my loss and pain then moved through the day with peace and hope.

      RIP Ms. Franklin

  • Great tribute CL! I read an article in Rolling Stone yesterday which quoted her from a 1974 interview. When Rolling Stone asked her what made her happy she replied “My children. And having little get – togethers and making up a whole lot of food. And gold records. And love.” For some reason it made me shed a tear. This big star, the Queen of Soul, is made happy by the simple things in life just like most of us – except for gold records. May she rest in peace.

  • Here is a bit of irony. Ex douche and I got into a angry bet, one time, about which song Aretha sang in the Blues Brothers. I knew it was “Think”. He was so confident that it was “Respect” and thus lost the bet. Not too long after, he did get his freedom too, just like she sang about! God bless her!

  • “If Aretha Franklin felt pain, she was just going to wrap a full-length mink coat around it and face that audience.”

    I love this so much!

    Aretha was the woman that I have wanted to be on so many occasions– “You better think… think about what you’re tryin’ to do to me… FREEDOM!” She’s the woman with the snappy comeback who makes the bully look stupid and small. She’s the woman who walks down the hall, and other people clear a path for her out of respect (and maybe a little bit of fear). When she’s gunning for you because you know you did something wrong, you gulp and lower your eyes to the floor because here she comes, eyes blazing, ready to put you in your place.

    I have always loved her vocal talent, but I have really always loved her moxie. Even if that moxie was just a front for her pain, she wore it well and inspired so many people to be stronger and to keep going, no matter what. She should be part of every chump’s life soundtrack.

  • Aretha taught me how to be a strong young woman in Detroit. I miss Sam’s Jams!

  • When I was young I stated, “Forget love, I’m holding out for respect”. The couples in my family claimed they loved one another, but I saw no respect in their actions. I decided I wouldn’t stand for that, and while I put up with a lot more than I should have, I did eventually leave. Thanks Aretha.

  • THIS: “If Aretha Franklin felt pain, she was just going to wrap a full-length mink coat around it and face that audience.”

    If you are here… if you have found ChumpLady and Chump Nation… you are home. You will get through this shitstorm because you are a seeker… you aren’t afraid to look the storm in the eye and tell it to fuck off. With knowledge comes courage… with courage comes action… with action comes freedom.

    RIP Aretha… no excuses, no surrender.

  • Aretha.. ultimate chump, ultimate survivor. for sure an inspiration to us all to keep moving.

  • “I ain’t no psychiatrist, I ain’t no doctor with degrees
    It don’t take too much high IQ’s
    To see what you’re doing to me” – THINK Blues Brothers

    This refrain comes to mind whenever I see someone ask on here, ‘is such n such fuckwit a narcissist’ (‘n guess how I learned to spell that!).

    Thank you for today’s post! I am also a fifth-generation Detroiter living in Detroit (historic Boston Edison living in one of the homes my Polish-Romani grandmother was a servant and seamstress and not far from the plant where my grandfather forged iron when he was brought from the Mt Pleasant Indian Industrial boarding school as a teen for, ahem, ‘discounted labor’). The loss of the queen is being felt deeply in the city. Driving down Jefferson at every stop light people in their cars were sobbing listening to 92.3FM that has every one of her songs (still) 24/7.

    May we all adopt Aretha as our spirit animal in these trying times!

    “A woman’s only human
    You should understand
    She’s not just a plaything
    She’s flesh and blood just like her man
    If you want a do-right-all-day woman
    You gotta be a do-right-all-night man”

    *** is now an ok time to request a little melanin in your cartoons? I’m a proud Detroit native Anishinaabeqwe chump and my fuckwit is a very handsome Black Nationalist Detroiter. We have some gorgeous mixed babes. (and his string of mistresses looks like the united nations…well, junior united nations seeing as they were all in their 20s). Pretty please? One Detroiter to another?

    • “You’re a no good heart breaker
      You’re a liar and you’re a cheat”

      She was a chump pin-up for sure. She had walked many miles in chump shoes and made fabulous funky fuck-off soul out of that pain.

      Another reason to rate you Tracy – any Aretha lover is a sister. On my obligatory Aussie 20yo backpacking trip I took an Aretha double cassette and my trusty Walkman (showing MY age now). All I want for my next life is a voice like that. Oh, actually, and no cheaters please.

  • OK – I will date myself here. When I was high school, and in the marching band, we would play (no disrespect intended cause I suspect we butchered) her songs on the field. I remember shouting out R.E.S.P.E.C.T. and not really understanding why that was so powerful (even though I felt it). Little did I know I was being taught to be a doormat to a man’s sexual whims ..sigh.

    God bless her soul and may her music live on forever and her life be an inspiration to us all.

  • Aretha lived CL’s advice for the chumped: “Go be awesome.” Spin your pain into gold (music, education, a peaceful home—gold can be fashioned into an endless variety of forms), and leave the fuckwits in your dust.

    I’d say CL is the Aretha of the blogging universe. #respect

  • I loved her voice and how she just owned what she sang. I listen to You’re All I Need (to get by); Oh Me Oh My; and Angel, almost every day. She was one of the greats who could transport you in her songs. Such power and emotion. I could have listened to her sing her grocery list.

    I did not know of her past until now, but it makes me respect her even more for her resilience.

    Rest In Peace, Queen Aretha, and thank you.

  • Tracy,
    That was an incredible tribute to Aretha Franklin and how and why she meant so much to you. I am grateful that you told the part of her story where she was sexually abused and having a children while only a child herself. Including those details that were dark times in her life actually serve the purpose of making her light shine brighter. Perhaps it was that darkness that brought out her inner light and made it glow so bright. She was a soul singer, but also a “soul singer.” She sang from the depths of her soul.


    Hmm…not trying to be bossy here, but I will be bossy. Maybe send a version of this article to the New York Times. (Per their editor’s word limits and other requirements). You wrote a wonderful and heart-felt tribute. I bet others would love to read it too. You don’t have to send it to The NY Times but it’s very moving tribute and would be fantastic content for them. Just a suggestion. Your writing is of the caliber of the New York Times and other top news organizations. Please know this comment is meant to tell you what a tremendous writer you are and that your writing would be a great addition to the top news organizations in the world if you find the time.

  • Too funny. I used to date an English guy and when our relationship was fizzling out I played a lot of Aretha albums. One day he made some offhand complaint about having to listen to “that shouting black lady.” He just didn’t get it.

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