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Song Stories

“Respect”

Aretha Franklin | 1967

Aretha Franklin went into Atlantic Records' New York studio on Valentine’s Day, 1967, with the idea to remake the then-two-year-old Otis Redding track “Respect.” Producer Jerry Wexler brought in musicians from Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and celebrated sax man King Curtis; Aretha’s sisters, Carolyn and Erma, provided backing vocals; Arif Mardin arranged and Tom Dowd engineered. Mardin summed up the feeling of the day: “I have been in many studios in my life, but there was never a day like that. It was like a festival. Everything worked just right.” Aretha and Carolyn Franklin came up with the idea to spell out the word respect in the bridge and to add the “sock it to me” chant at the end. “I fell off my chair when I heard that!” said Dowd. To clarify, that often-misunderstood line is “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, take care, T.C.B.,” where T.C.B. stands for “take care of business.”

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Song Stories

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

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