Do Right Woman, Do Right Man

Album: I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You (1967)


  • Written by Chips Moman and Dan Penn, "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" is a gospel-inflected plea for men to respect their female partners. If the man treats his lover well, rather than just "a plaything," she won't be tempted to stray.
  • Aretha Franklin began recording the song at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, after completing "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)." During the session, there was an argument between Franklin's husband, Ted White, trumpeter Ken Laxton, and FAME boss Rick Hall. Franklin and White stormed out and went AWOL, leaving Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler with an incomplete version of the R&B ballad. Dan Penn recalled to Uncut magazine in 2020:

    "I didn't think we had anything. I had sung the pilot vocal; it was real high for me, but I had to sing it with the band to get them through it. There wasn't much going on - a little drum lick, a little bass lick. (Aretha) didn't know the song; she wasn't ready to apply herself. And before I knew it, they pulled her out of there and the session was over."

    A few weeks later, Franklin resurfaced at Atlantic Studios in New York to lay down her lead vocal with the help of her sisters Carolyn and Erma, along with Cissy Houston. Jerry Wexler decided to send the Muscle Shoals musicians to New York to work with the Queen of Soul. Penn remembered:

    "Later on, they called the band to come up to New York, so I went up too. Jerry Wexler said, Dan - you come with me, so we went to the Atlantic control room and they played me the finished do right woman... with Aretha and her sisters and all that. It knocked me down! To me, it's the best record she ever made, so I was real happy."
  • Franklin plays the piano on the track. Muscle Shoals bass player David Hood recalled to Uncut:

    "The first-time thing for Aretha was that Wexler was going to have her play the piano while she sang. On the Columbia recordings her piano wasn't featured. That was a brilliant idea - it worked very well for the musicians, and for her. We needed the feel that she put into her piano playing while she was singing, and it affected the way she was singing. It was a brilliant move. All the other times I recorded with Aretha, she would always play piano and sing at the same time. Technically, it's hard to do that. You can have the piano feeding into the vocal mic, there can be sound issues. There are some issues (on the record,) I'm sure, but they were able to take care of that."
  • "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" was released as the B-side to "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," reaching #37 on the R&B chart.
  • Some of the many artists to cover this song include Cher, Joan Baez, Etta James, Willie Nelson, Joe Cocker and Whitney Houston. Barbara Mandrell's version reached #17 on the Country chart and #128 on the Hot 100 in 1971.
  • If you want a do right, home days woman
    Do right, do right, do right, do right woman
    You've got to be a do right, home nights man
    Do right, do right, do right, do right man, man

    This is a commonly misheard lyric and several of the acts who covered the song sang the lyrics as, "all days woman" and "all night man."
  • In the 1991 film Cape Fear, Robert De Niro's psychopathic Max Cady tries to seduce Juliette Lewis' disaffected teen while playing this song.
  • This is ranked #476 on Rolling Stone's 2004 list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.


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