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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

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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