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Respect

by

Aretha Franklin



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Otis Redding wrote this and originally recorded it in 1965, with his version hit #35 in the US. Redding said of the song shortly before his death in 1967: "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."
Redding's version consisted of only verses - no chorus or bridge. Aretha appropriated King Curtis's sax solo from Sam & Dave's "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby," which he recorded the previous night for Stax Records, and used that for the bridge.
Franklin's cover is by far the best known version, but this was an important song for Otis Redding. It was just his second Top 40 hit, following "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)," and it helped establish Redding on mainstream radio. Otis also performed the song at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967; this was a defining performance in for Redding, who died in a plane crash six months later.
It was Aretha's idea to cover this song. She came up with the arrangement, added the "Sock it to me" lines, and played piano on the track. Her sister Carolyn, who sang backup on the album, also helped with the song.
Aretha recorded this in New York City with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, a group of four studio musicians who also played sessions in Nashville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama before starting their own Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. This was one of their first, and most famous recordings. They went on to work with Wilson Pickett, Paul Simon, Bob Seger and The Staple Singers.
Jerry Wexler produced this. He played a big role in unleashing Aretha's talent. Wexler said in his autobiography, Rhythm and the Blues: A Life in American Music: "The fervor in Aretha's voice demanded that respect; and more respect also involved sexual attention of the highest order. What else would 'sock it to me' mean?"
Tom Dowd was the engineer for this session. He worked for Atlantic Records, who had an arrangement with Stax, which is where Otis Redding recorded. Dowd worked with Redding, which led to Aretha's cover. In the documentary Tom Dowd And The Language Of Music, Dowd talked about working with Franklin on this song: "I walked out into the studio and said, 'What's the next song?' Aretha starts singing it to me, I said, 'I know that song, I made it with Otis Redding like 3 years ago.' The first time I recorded 'Respect,' was on the Otis Blue album, and she picked up on it. She and Carolyn were the ones who conceived of it coming from the woman's point of view instead of the man's point of view, and when it came to the middle, Carolyn said, 'Take care, TCB.' Aretha jumped on it and that was how we did 'Respect.'"
The lyric "Take care, TCB" is often misheard. "TCB" means "Taking Care of Business."
Aretha's line, "Sock it to me," which is a sexual reference, became a catch phrase on the TV show Laugh In in the '70s. The line was also used in the song "Come On Sock It To Me" by the Soul singer Syl Johnson, also in 1967.
Franklin had just signed with Atlantic Records, and when her single "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You" became a hit, and Atlantic quickly arranged the sessions that produced "Respect" so she could put out an album to accompany the single. Aretha went on to release her biggest hits with Atlantic and became known as the "Queen Of Soul."
Before Aretha broke through and became the Queen of Soul, Etta James was the more popular singer. After this was released, James tried to resurrect her career by releasing her own cover of an Otis Redding song. She did a version of Redding's "Security," but it barely got noticed.
This has been used in many movies, including Platoon, Forrest Gump, Mystic Pizza, and Back To School.
This was Aretha's first song to chart in England.
Many believe that Aretha was drawing on her own tumultuous marriage at the time for inspiration. Jerry Wexler commented: "If she didn't live it, she couldn't give it... But, Aretha would never play the part of the scorned woman.... Her middle name was Respect." (Quotes from Rolling Stone magazine's Top 500 Songs)
Maureen McGovern, who hit #1 with "The Morning After," played the part of a nun who sang this in the movie Airplane! (thanks, Brad Wind - Miami, FL,)
In the movie Rat Race, Rowan Atkinson sings this even though he is listening to "Chain Of Fools." (thanks, Scott Baddwin - edmonton, Canada)
In 1989 the American R&B vocalist Adeva had a #17 hit in the UK with her house version of this song. It was her debut hit and coincidentally her next 2 releases also peaked at #17. She never achieved a higher chart placing.
A Long Island group called The Vagrants released their version of this song shortly before Franklin's came out. The Vagrants recording tanked, and the group soon called it quits, but their bass player Felix Pappalardi and guitarist Leslie West went on to form Mountain, who played at Woodstock and had an enduring hit with "Mississippi Queen."
In the second verse, Franklin proclaims to her man that she is about to give him all her money, and that all she's asking is for him to give her "her propers," when he gets home. This term would evolve into "props," commonly used in Hip-Hop in the context of proper respect.
Aretha Franklin sings this song in the movie Blues Brothers 2000. She also appeared in the original Blues Brothers movie, performing "Think."
Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin Artistfacts
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More songs The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section played on
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More songs about female empowerment
More songs that S-P-E-L-L out words in the lyrics

Comments (25):

"Respect" by Aretha is still a favorite of mine. Back in '67 I bought her album "I Never Loved A Man..." which had so many cool songs on it, including "Respect." Then I bought about all the rest of her hits over the decades. Yep, in "Respect" I do recall the phrases "whip it to me" and "sock it to me" making the older folks turn red or blush. Back then, they were a bit risque' I recall. After that became #1 hit, one of my college professors would go around the halls muttering "WHIP IT TO ME, Kids!" That was just prior to him going off his rocker. Anyway... Whip it to me!!!
- Raunchy, Tulsa, OK
Back in '67 when this song was #1, I think I was age 7. My older brothers loved this song, so I did too. They'd tell me they liked it cause it was a nasty song. Haa! Well, our Dad heard that my brothers bought the 45 rpm single & he broke it in two because he claimed it was filthy because it said "sock it to me" and an even worse exclamation, "whip it to me!" Back then, most records weren't supposed to say such stuff. I think that kids were drawn to the records that went ahead and put those words to record anyway. It was the true emotion of the composer anyway. At age 7, even with a religious upbringing, I didn't see anything wrong with "Respect." Well, a few months after that, Daddy got hauled off to prison anyway so we didn't have to worry about him breaking any more of our records!
- Rotunda, Tulsa, OK
Truly a great hit for Aretha. And I recall her interview on "60 Minutes" on CBS with the late great Ed Bradley. He asked Aretha about "sock it to me" and "whip it to me" and what they meant. By that time, I think most everyone knew they meant sex. When the record came out in 1967, I was a wet-behind-the-ears kid in school & hearing "sock it to me" and "whip it to me" drew me to the record & other soul music all the more. Yeah! Whip it to me!
- Elmer H, westville, OK
Oooo child, I remember this hit. In 1967 "Respect" was climbing the charts fast & I had just graduated University of Kansas and got my first job in nearby Saint Joseph, Missouri. When I first heard Aretha's "Respect" I was wild when I heard the "sock it to me" reference to sex. But later in the song she said "whip it to me" which just about caused me to bust a gut! At the time, I don't think anyone else ever made such a blatant reference to getting laid as "whip it to me" stated! Yeah. I liked it for being such an "in yo face" attitude for 1967. Well, it's for sure that the lyrics "sock it to me" and WHIP IT TO ME!!!" really got lots of attention back then. Mercy!!!
- BubblesK, Memphis, TN
This song was played played in the movie The Blues Brothers.
- Nina, Prunedale, CA
Truly the 'Queen of Soul"; in 1969 she pulled off a rare feat, she had a two-sided Top Ten hit. "The House That Jack Built" peaked at #6 while the flip-side, "I Say A Little Prayer" reached #10!!!
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
TCP means The Colored People. Elvis Presley changed it to TCB Takin' Care of Business for his version but Aretha sings TCP Take care...The Colored People. TCB is just plain wrong if you're talking about Aretha, thanks.
- cafenitro, tulsa, OK
Hey, that's not bad. I thought the kept saying "Take that PCP"... a drug reference.
- Jenni, Lincoln, NE
I've wondered about the "Take out T-C-P" line for years. First, it sounds more like P than B to me. I also thought about the spelling thing (taking out TCP in RESPECT spells "Rese") which only makes sense if you consider that the backups respond with "Ree, ree, ree" which are "Rees" when you think about it.
- Doug, Boston, MA
good point roberta. you could say that it is the best cover in rock n roll. She is the queen of soul and always will be. She rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- nicole, n/a, WI
Since Elvis' company was called TCB for Taking Care of Business, could this have been a tip o' the hat to him?
- CindyLouise, Buxton, NC
In 1967 the sheet music for this had the lyric "take out T-C-P". I've also seen it written as "take care of pleasin' me" even though it's clear that is not what she says. Has anyone written to Ms. Franklin and asked her?
- Ekristheh, Halath, United States
I used to think (Until JUST NOW!) that the line was "Take out TCP" which made no sense. TCP is for body cuts, but that had no relovense in the song. So then I tried taking out TCP in RESPECT but that spelled "Rese" which again is irlovent
- Mjn Seifer, Not listed for personal reason, England
I believe TCB means, "Taking Care of Business", but I think what Aretha Franklin sings is, "TCP", which would stand for, "This Colored Person". This would be consistent with the language of the era and the song.
- Aulden, Miami, FL
Great song, great lyrics, great vocals. An awesome song, and it should be on the list for greatest songs.
- Bill, Dallas, TX
Otis was aware that Aretha' version of this song was truly great. His comment was "that woman stole my song."
- Don, Newmarket, Canada
I believe the "take care, TCB" line which is described above as being misheard and meaning "Take care, taking care of business" is actually, "Take care o' TCP" which was taken by so many of us to mean, during that time of much racial and social upheaval, "Take care of The Colored People."
- David, Ashland, OR
It was also played in"Major Pain"
- James, I am sinking, LA
FYI When Otis Redding originally wrote this, it was customary to show proper respect for your elders. His original line "...Is to give me my proper respect when you get home" was interpreted by Aretha as "Give me my propers, when you come home," NOT ..."give me my profits..." as stated in the lyrics posted here. Interestingly, this has been shortened to "Let's give so-and-so props" in today's lingo.
- Maria, Grand Rapids, MI
I've always enjoyed listening to this song, as well as "Think", from a racial context; sure, it's an obvious relationship song, but when you consider the time of release and the circumstances of that period, both can be easily interpreted as civil rights songs. That just makes them even more enjoyable for me.
- yduR, Knoxville, TN
Dyh. of course she's the Queen Of Soul. Why wood anyone dispute that?
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
Not only is "Respect" #5 on the Rolling Stone list, numbers one through four are original - so one could say this is officially the greatest cover version in rock and roll.
- Roberta, Lawrence, KS
Hey, Matt. You get around a bit. Last saw you posting on Nirvana SLTS! And Aretha is indeed the Queen of Soul!
- Eloise, London, England
Aretha Franklin is the queen of soul. I think she got like #1 on the 50 greatest women in music or somethin like that.
- Matt, Millbrae, CA
This is also #5 in Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs. Why is this the first comment here. I mean come on. R-E-S-P-E-C-T
- Ross, Independence, MO
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