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‘Amazing Grace’ & Aretha Franklin’s Greatest Vocal Hits

by THN

Aretha Franklin’s impact on music and other musicians is incredibly impressive, her raw talent has never been surpassed and those who saw her perform live knew that they were witnessing something special. For the first time ever, previously lost footage from the live recording of her record-breaking gospel album Amazing Grace will be available to experience in cinemas on May 10 and to celebrate, we take a look at a small collection of her greatest songs.

10. BABY, I LOVE YOU – 1967

After the incredible success of single I NEVER LOVED A MAN (THE WAY I LOVE YOU), Franklin and her team knew what the fans enjoyed and created BABY, I LOVE YOU. Topping the R&B charts and hitting #4 on Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, the song has a fun horn-centred tempo where Franklin declares her love and wants her man to make the next move now. Noted lyrics: “Someday ya might wanna run away / and leave me sittin’ here to cry / But if it’s all the same to ya baby / I’m gonna stop you from saying goodbye.”

9. JUMP TO IT – 1982

Dancing around in your bedroom while on the phone with your best friend, but really waiting for your love to call is exactly what this catchy song is about. All in good terms though, Franklin just “can’t wait till / today at four / that’s when my sweet thing / said he would call.” The relatable song was written by Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller during their break when guest starring on SNL. Vandross sent it to her straightaway and she jumped to it.


Franklin secretly confesses about being helplessly attracted to a no-good, heart-breaking, cheating liar in this blues-ballad where she makes it clear that she is aware her love is bad, but still wants all his affections anyway. However, Franklin does end that she “ain’t never had a man hurt me so bad / no / well this is what I’m gonna do about it.” The song rose to #1 in 1967 and established her as a singing superstar.


I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER is one of the most well-known Aretha Franklin hits and charted in both the R&B and Pop charts. The song was created when Franklin, her background singers and one of the original song-writers, Burt Bacharach, were playing around with the Dionne Warwick’s song. It has been noted that after only one recorded take, Franklin included this cover on her THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT record. Noted lyrics: “Together, together, that’s how it must be / To live without you / Would only be heartbreak for me.”

Related: Watch the trailer for Amazing Grace

6. CHAIN OF FOOLS – 1953

Winner of Best Female R&B Performance at the 1969 Grammy’s, this funky harmony tells the story of Franklin realizing she is just another one of her man’s girls on his chain. She understands that it won’t last long, but is enjoying being with him regardless. Franklin makes it clear stating that “My father said, ‘come on home’ / My doctor said, ‘take it easy’ / oh but your lovin’ is much too strong” for her to want to leave any time soon.


Leaving behind all the heartaches and terrible exes, this ballad conveys the innocence of finding a soulmate. It is also one of the most popular songs in Franklin’s discography. When Franklin performed the masterpiece at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, she received a standing ovation during her impeccable final chorus and reportedly make President Barack Obama cry.

4. THINK – 1968

Franklin secured her position as a strong, independent feminist with this iconic anthem. Written with her husband and manager, Teddy White, Franklin instructs her love to consider both people in their relationship. This became her sixth #1 single on the R&B chart and was the song she sang in hit film BLUES BROTHERS, in a scene stealing moment where she tries to persuade her husband not to rejoin his old band.


Franklin introduces the song by telling a young girl about the lessons she has learned about love and men. She then sings about how boys can make you feel incredible yet can shatter you in an instant. Franklin reminds the girl that as long as she stays true to herself, she has power. Noted lyrics: “Tough to be, but life ain’t over / just because your man is gone / Girl, love yourself and love to love / Cause without him your life goes on / without him your life goes on.”

2. RESPECT – 1967

Everyone can agree that all they want is RESPECT, and this is perhaps one of the many reasons why this song has become as iconic as Franklin herself. In this catchy track, Franklin puts her foot down and demands deserves respect in a relationship, but during the height of the civil rights movement in America, the song was given a whole new powerful meaning. She actually included the “Sock it to me” line to the original Otis Redding’s lyrics and played the piano in the original recording. Along with TCB, meaning ‘Taking Care of Business.’


Performing both the lead vocals and the piano, Franklin rises to a heavenly level in her rendition of AMAZING GRACE, which was the title track in what was to become the best-selling live gospel LP in history. Many people, including Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts, attended the recording at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles and clapped along during the recording, knowing that it was truly a historical moment in music.


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