Muscle Shoals, the famous Nashville backing and studio band, rips on this classic track, “Respect”, which newer listeners may be surprised to learn is not an Aretha Franklin original. While she easily has the most popular cover honors, the original writing and recording was performed by Otis Redding in 1965, becoming a major hit for him, and may have continued to be associated just as much with him had he not met an tragic and untimely death due to a plane crash in 1967. Years, later, “Respect” seems to have become a female empowerment song, yet in fact it is about the more general need for ‘respect.’ Otis Redding said of his feelings about the track; “That's one of my favorite songs because it has a better groove than any of my records. It says something, too: 'What you want, baby, you got it; what you need, baby, you got it; all I'm asking for is a little respect when I come home.' The song lines are great. The band track is beautiful. It took me a whole day to write it and about twenty minutes to arrange it. We cut it once and that was it. Everybody wants respect, you know.” It’s a trip because in the song, money is often referenced to being tied to this respect; “Ooh, your kisses, sweeter than honey, and guess what, so is my money, all I want you to do for me, is give it to me when you get home (re, re, re, re), yeah baby, (re, re, re, re), whip it to me (respect, just a little bit), when you get home, now (just a little bit).” The notion is, ‘hey, I worked y ass off, so you better give me more than a little respect when I come home.” The command is androgynous, since the breadwinner, especially in modern ties, can be a man or a woman, but looking at the lyrics here closely, it does seem to lean towards an older world view of the man working and coming home to demand attention commensurate to his traditional role as head of the household. Aretha’s version is the prevailing one at any rate, and she howls with limitless vocal power, while keeping a manic pace on the live version, where the bpm is fast, and the double time double clapping section is head spinning.
"Respect" is a song written and originally released by American recording artist Otis Redding in 1965. The song became a 1967 hit and signature song for soul singer Aretha Franklin. The music in the two versions is significantly different, and through a few changes in the lyrics, the stories told by the songs have a different flavor. Redding's version is a plea from a desperate man, who will give his woman anything she wants. He won't care if she does him wrong, as long as he gets his due respect when he brings money home. However, Franklin's version is a declaration from a strong, confident woman, who knows that she has everything her man wants. She never does him wrong, and demands his "respect". Franklin's version adds the "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" chorus and the backup singers' refrain of "Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me...".