It was the Byrds album everyone hated in 1968. Now, ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ is a classic.

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In June, with so little fanfare they weren’t even listed on the bill, Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman took the stage at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium to play a song from “Sweetheart of the Rodeo.”

They last did that on March 16, 1968, and it did not go well. They were the Byrds then, and the appearance at the Grand Ole Opry elicited boos, catcalls or indifference, depending on who’s telling the story. This time, backed by Marty Stuart and his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, the crowd cheered as McGuinn and Hillman kicked into “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” the Bob Dylan song that opens “Sweetheart.”

“I cried,” says Tyler Mahan Coe, a country music historian who hosts the popular “Cocaine & Rhinestones” podcast. “I never even imagined that it would hit me as hard as it did.”

It’s fitting that Coe was born 16 years after “Sweetheart’s” original release. Back then, the album stiffed, sparking the end of one of pop’s great partnerships. But over time, that sixth Byrds record has climbed from cutout bins onto most-important-ever lists. And now, at 50, “Sweetheart” is recognized for inspiring musicians from the Eagles and Elvis Costello to next- generation alt-country players such as Ryan Adams and Wilco.

“Every generation has this new take on roots and back to basics,” declares Scott Avett of the Avett Brothers. “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” is one of those great milestones or benchmarks.”

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LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 24: Byrds founders Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn perform with Marty Stuart at the Sweetheart of the Rodeo 50th Anniversary at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rozette Rago for The Washington Post)

 

This year, Byrds founder McGuinn, 76, who regularly turns down millions to reunite the Byrds, recruited Hillman, 73, to celebrate the album with a short tour. They started in California last month and will continue in September with gigs in, among other spots, New York, Boston and Virginia.

It’s not a Byrds reunion, particularly with the third living founding member, David Crosby, not involved. But the set list isn’t limited to “Sweetheart.” McGuinn and Hillman explain how they got to Nashville by digging deeply into the Byrds catalogue, with hits such as “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” melding with lesser-known tracks that show how country music influenced them.

“Sweetheart” wasn’t just country-tinged. It was driven by banjos, fiddles and pedal steel guitar. It also launched Gram Parsons, who would quit the Byrds after a single record to embark on his short, influential career.

From L.A. to Nashville

They were called the Jet Set when CBS signed them in November 1964, but quickly switched to the Byrds. By April 1965, they released what became their first No. 1 hit, an electrified take on Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

The Byrds were defined by McGuinn’s 12-string Rickenbacker 360, with its thick, jangly melody lines, as well as the gorgeous harmonies of McGuinn, Gene Clark and David Crosby. Hillman, a Los Angeles native with a passion for bluegrass, had joined to play bass. In early 1967, the Byrds released his collaboration with McGuinn, “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.” The Byrds would have three more Top-40 hits over the next year before tensions led to Clark and Crosby’s exits. “The Notorious Byrd Brothers,” an innovative, psychedelic pop record released in early 1968, was largely created by McGuinn, Hillman and session players.

Then, while standing in line at a bank in Beverly Hills, Hillman ran into a sandy-haired kid from Georgia who said he could play piano. Hillman brought him to McGuinn. Parsons was just 21.

“I asked Gram if he could play some McCoy Tyner type of piano,” McGuinn says. “Because I was into John Coltrane and the “Eight Miles High” kind of place. And he played some Floyd Cramer-style piano. Floyd played on Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel.” That was a song that got me interested in music. I thought, ‘Wow, this guy’s got talent.’ But I didn’t know he would turn into George Jones in a sequin suit.”

~~~  CONTINUE / A GOOD HISTORY  ~~~

The Atlantic ~ Photos of the week

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A girl lies in a hammock, with the Milky Way in the background, during the peak of the Perseid meteor shower in Kozjak, Macedonia, on August 13, 2018.

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The phrase Aretha Makes Me Feel Like a Natural Woman is seen on a stairwell leading to the Franklin Street subway station in New York City on August 16, 2018. Known as the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin passed away on August 16, 2018, in Detroit, at the age of 76.

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Demonstrators react during a protest against violence toward women in Lima, Peru, on August 11, 2018.

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An Indian woman looks down the barrel of an 84mm rocket launcher during an Indian-army exhibition at Panther Stadium in Amritsar, India, on August 11, 2018.

The Sheltering Sound By Amanda Petrusich ~ The New Yorker

The Rōbert [Cholo] Report (pron: Rō'bear Re'por)

Paul Bowls was one of America’s great ex-pat writers of the 20 century.  Check out some of his classic novels. His works aren’t exactly nihilistic but his themes centralize the feelings that none of us are living our lives on terra firma but wallow in an ocean of sand..

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In a 1975 interview, the poet Daniel Halpern asked the author and composer Paul Bowles why he’d spent such a significant chunk of his life scrambling about the globe. I imagine Bowles’s speaking voice here as matter-of-fact, exegetic: “I’ve always wanted to get as far as possible from the place where I was born,” he answered (that place was Flushing, Queens, in 1910; he was the only child of a rancorous, unloving father and a meek, bookish mother). “Far both geographically and spiritually. To leave it behind. One belongs to the whole world, not just one part of it.”

What was Bowles…

View original post 770 more words

The Coming Green Wave ~ The New York Times

This silent majority will no longer stand by as the Trump administration tries to destroy a century of bipartisan love of the land.

 

One of the national monuments being shrunk by the Trump administration is Bears Ears in UtahCredit Bob Strong/Reuters

If emotions were water, and you took all the heartbreak felt by the millions who followed the plight of a starving orca whale grieving over her dead calf, you’d have a river the size of the mighty Columbia.

If anger were a volcano, and you let loose all the rage felt by people over the daily assaults on public land by the Trump administration, you’d have an eruption with the fury of Mount St. Helens.

And if just one unorganized voting segment, the 60 million bird-watchers of America, sent a unified political message this fall, you’d have a political block with more than 10 times the membership of the National Rifle Association.

A bird-watching group in ColoradoCredit RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post, via Getty Images

A Green Wave is coming this November, the pent-up force of the most overlooked constituency in America. These independents, Teddy Roosevelt Republicans and Democrats on the sideline have been largely silent as the Trump administration has tried to destroy a century of bipartisan love of the land.

But no more. Politics, like Newton’s third law of physics, is about action and reaction. While President Trump tries to prop up the dying and dirty coal industry with taxpayer subsidies, the outdoor recreation industry has been roaring along. It is a $374-billion-a-year economy, by the government’s own calculation, and more than twice that size by private estimates.

That’s more than mining, oil, gas and logging combined. And yet, the centerpiece of a clean and growing industry is under attack by a president with a robber baron view of the natural world.

I write from the smoke-choked West, where the air quality in major cities has been worse than Beijing this month. While Trump spends his days comparing women to dogs, and tweets nonsense about rivers flowing to the sea, the biggest wildfire in California history blazes away.

After the four warmest years ever recorded, scientists have now warned that the next five will be “anomalously warm.” But Trump doesn’t even understand time zones, let alone atmospheric upheaval.

In the face of these life-altering changes, Trump is drafting rules to make it easier for major polluters to drive up the earth’s temperature. While the orcas of Puget Sound are starving, Trump is trying to weaken the law that protects endangered species. And while lovers of the outdoors break visitation records at national parks and forests, Trump is removing land from protection.

This is not green goo-goo or fantasy projection. You can see and feel the energy in places ignored by the national political press.

“If D.C. comes for our public land, water or monuments again, they’ll have to come through me,” says Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat with an even chance of taking a longtime Republican seat in New Mexico, in an ad showing off her political chops.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah is set to shrink under the Trump administration. Credit Bob Strong/Reuters

The revolt started after Trump shrunk several national monuments in the West last year — the largest rollback of public land protection in our history. The outdoor retailer Patagonia responded with a blank screen on its web page with the statement, “The President Stole Your Land.” It was the first shot in a battle that has been raging all summer.

At the big, boisterous outdoor industry’s national trade show in Denver last month, retailers who sell to the 144 million Americans who participated in an outdoor activity last year, or the 344 million overall visitors to national parks, vowed to flex some muscle in the coming midterm elections.

They scoffed at the absurdity of propping up coal when there are more yoga instructors in the United States than people who work to produce a filthy fuel source. They were appalled that the increasingly strange interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, blamed everything but climate change for a summer of epic wildfires. And they promised to be heard this fall.

Kiitella Awards: 2018 Colorado Classic Pro-Cycling Awards – VAIL – Stage 1 & 2

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At the 2018 Colorado Classic Stages 1 & 2, hosted by Vail, winners are awarded very cool medals and trophies, both custom-designed and fabricated by Colorado metal artist Lisa Issenberg, of Kiitellä (Finnish v. meaning to thank, applaud or praise).
The Medals:
“Gold, silver and bronze” medals — actual metals are solid brass, stainless steel and bronze patina’d brass — in the curvaceous form of a bicycle chain link, ready to open a bottle of Colorado brewed beer, or hold a key… And the neck ribbon?.. a slice of used bike tube. A slick and fully functional award for the podium finishers. 
The Trophies:
Vail’s iconic Gore Range is captured in steel, and capped with used bicycle chain, welded to the ridge. Thick, satin-polished “gold, silver and bronze” rings frame a metal printed Colorado Classic logo. 

Our Hubris Will Be Our End

Then we’ll adapt and start telling ourselves new stories, just as humans have always done.

By Roy ScrantonRoy

Scranton is the author of “We’re Doomed. Now What? Essays on War and Climate Change.

The Eastern Shore of Maryland on the Delmarva PeninsulaCredit Lexey Swall for The New York Times

You can walk to the beach from where we are staying. It’s a long peel of dun-colored sand bordered by tidy rainbow summer houses, monotonous black and white condos and monstrous blue McMansions that blister the length of the Delmarva Peninsula. On the other side of the sand lies the heaving, implacable mass of unfathomable gray-green water that covers nearly three-quarters of the globe, once a boundary between the known and unknown, a limit-space of mystery and terror, now tamed, or so we think, to a vacation fun zone. There are lifeguards, though, lean summer kids with lazy tans, and to the north, rising from the low trees, towers built to defend the American coastline from Nazi subs.

Ten minutes away, the highway connects you to an outlet mall, a Walmart and a cinema showing the latest superhero movie. We walk back and forth from the beach to the house, brave the cold Atlantic rush and the biting flies, make dinner, put the baby to bed, play a board game and sink at last into our screens, each of us burrowed into a different dark corner of the living room. Tablet light, phone light, laptop light flicker on our slack, rapt gazes.

Five hundred years ago, the people who lived here did not believe in progress. They did not believe in individual liberty, the autonomous self, the freedom of markets, human rights, the state or the concept of nature as something distinct from culture. They lived for generations without electricity, refrigeration, automobiles, Wi-Fi, on-demand streaming, police, homogenized milk, antibiotics or even The New York Times, and they were almost entirely wiped out in the centuries-long campaign of displacement and genocide that forms the through-line of North American history from 1492 to the end of the Apache Wars in the 1920s.

 

Indeed, some historians and anthropologists — such as James C. Scott, in his book “Against the Grain” — argue that life before modernity was better than our own, with more leisure time, fewer diseases and afflictions, and a more robust phenomenological and spiritual engagement with the world around us. True or not, the argument feels right, especially any time I find myself sitting by a campfire after hiking through the woods all day, or hanging out at the beach watching the waves crash.

Then I go back to my habits: the computer at which I write; the gas range, with its reliable, smokeless flame on which I heat my coffee; the flush toilet — indoors! — that carries away all bodily waste; the electric lamp I turn on to read by; the heating and air-conditioning that regulate our house’s microclimate. And I cannot help but feel an abiding sense of relief. I am adapted, whether I like it or not, to a certain built environment, a certain sense of space, a certain social order.

We humans of the Anthropocene Era, inhabitants of a global capitalist civilization built on fossil fuels, slavery and genocide, are used to living with the fruits of that civilization. We are accustomed to walking on concrete in mass produced shoes. When it rains we go inside or open an umbrella made of nylon, a synthetic polymer first designed in 1930. When we have to travel, we take a train, bus, car or plane, journeying hundreds of miles in a few hours, at speeds that would have been unimaginable 250 years ago. When it gets hot, we turn on the air-conditioning or go to the beach.

The extended coastal urban areas where about 40 percent of all humans now live, so blessedly near the sea, including this very beach town from which I write, would have been incomprehensibly strange, even grotesque, to the people who used to live here. Yet we are no different from them in any essential way, only accustomed to a different way of life, a different built environment, a different set of narratives and concepts that shape our sense of reality.

The thing we humans of the Anthropocene share with the Nanticoke and the Unami-speaking Lenape who used to live on the Delmarva Peninsula, and with the !Kung of the Kalahari, the Yukaghir of Siberia, the medieval Persians, the ancient Mayans, the blue-painted Picts, the Neolithic proto-Chinese Peiligang peoples and the Paleolithic nomads of the Pleistocene Era is precisely our ability to adapt to changing conditions, primarily through the collective use of symbolic reasoning and narrative. Homo sapiens can live almost anywhere on Earth, under almost any conditions; all we need is a story telling us why our lives matter.

In the transition from the Mesozoic to the Cenozoic eras, around 65 million years ago, when the North American continent began to take shape, much of what we call the Eastern Seaboard was under water. No human beings existed then; it would be millions of years before any hominids evolved.

Today, Delmarva’s highest point is barely above sea level, a low hill on the peninsula’s west coast where you can sit and watch Chesapeake Bay slowly rise as Antarctica and Greenland melt, as the planet warms one-tenth degree by one-tenth degree, and the world to which we have adapted changes into something else. The beach will disappear, the McMansions will fill with water, the lifeguards will age and die and even the towers built to watch for Nazis will crumble and fall.

In some unknown future, on some strange and novel shore, human beings just like us will adapt to a whole new world. You can see them sitting circled around a fire on the beach, the light flickering on their rapt faces, one telling a story about a mighty civilization doomed by its hubris, an age of wonders long past.

Red hot planet: This summer’s punishing and historic heat in 7 maps and charts


Temperature difference from normal May through July. ( Robert Rhode/Berkeley Earth )

The headlines of record-crushing heat in the Northern Hemisphere began in June and haven’t stopped midway through August. Scores of locations on every continent north of the equator have witnessed their hottest weather in recorded history.

The sweltering temperatures have intensified raging wildfires in western North America, Scandinavia and Siberia, while leading to scores of heat-related deaths in Japan and eastern Canada.

Even with peak of summer having passed, several locations in western North America notched their highest temperatures on record last week. They included Calgary in western Canada, and Glacier National Park in Montana, where the temperature touched the century mark for the first time in 70 years of records.

A weather station in Idaho soared to a torrid 119 degrees (48.3 Celsius) last week. While it requires verification, it would mark the state’s highest temperature ever measured.

Maps and charts really help tell the story of the incredible heat this summer and place it in historical perspective. Here are 7 of the most compelling:

1. Record heat, day by day, May through July


(Robert Rhode/Berkeley Earth)

The remarkable coverage of both record-challenging and record-breaking heat is shown in this animated map which shows how many locations around the planet were coping with exceptionally hot weather every single day.

Few areas were left untouched by the heat which spread around the planet. Some areas, like the western United States, Japan and Scandinavia, were hit repeatedly.

2. The hottest May through July on record in the U.S. Lower 48 states


(NOAA)

The contiguous United States witnessed its hottest May on record, passing the previous mark set during the Dust Bowl. But it was July, which ranked 10th hottest, which delivered some of the most remarkable heat extremes.

California endured its hottest July on record. The scorching weather created idea wildfire conditions, and blazes have since consumed about 750,000 acres. Death Valley’s average July temperature of 108.1 degrees (42.3 Celsius) represented the hottest monthly reading ever measured on the planet.

In early July, the weather station at the University of California at Los Angeles, which has kept measurements since 1933, posted an all-time high of 111 degrees (43.9 degrees).

San Diego has seen astonishing warmth, including a record 16-day streak with highs of at least 83 degrees (28.3 Celsius) that just ended and an ongoing 21-day streak in which its low temperature hasn’t fallen below 70 (21.1 Celsius).

The historic warmth has transformed the normally cool ocean temperatures off the San Diego coast to ostensibly bath water in early August. The water temperature at Scripps Pier broke its previous record high mark set in July 1931 four times, most recently climbing to 79.5 degrees (26.4 Celsius) on August 9.

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

Our republic will never be the same ~ The Washington Post Op/Ed

August 16 at 6:22 PM

From the beginning of the American republic, its founders obsessed about how it all would end. “Democracy never lasts long,” said John Adams. “There never was a Democracy Yet, that did not commit suicide.”

George Washington used his farewell address to warn that partisan “factions” could tear the country apart. The Federalists worried that domestic disunity could be exploited by hostile foreign governments. James Madison in particular feared that liberty might be lost by “gradual and silent encroachments of those in power.”

But there is one factor in our politics that the founders could not have predicted: the debilitating infection of celebrity culture.

Were Washington to be resurrected, it would be difficult to explain how history’s most powerful nation, after surviving civil war and global conflict, turned for leadership to a celebrity known for abusing other celebrities on television. It is the single strangest development in American history. And we have only begun to process its consequences.

It is not that American leaders have never been famous. Dwight D. Eisenhower was one of the most famous men in the world for organizing victory in World War II. Ronald Reagan was famous for his acting career but also for being governor of California and an articulate conservative.

Fame usually has some rough relationship to accomplishment. Celebrity results from mastering the latest technologies of self-exposure. Ingrid Bergman was famous. Kim Kardashian is a celebrity. Franklin D. Roosevelt was famous. Donald Trump is . . . not in the same category.

Within its proper bounds — confined to stunts on a desert island or in a fake boardroom — the ethos of reality television is relatively harmless. Transposed to the highest level of politics, it is deeply damaging.

This is not only a matter of preferring a certain style of politics (though I think we should do better than the discourse of unhinged tweeting). The problem is a defect of spirit. The founders generally believed that the survival and success of a republic required leaders and citizens with certain virtues: moderation, self-restraint and concern for the common good. They were convinced that respect for a moral order made ordered liberty possible.

The culture of celebrity is the complete negation of this approach to politics. It represents a kind of corrupt, decaying capitalism in which wealth is measured in exposure. It elevates appearance over accomplishment. Because rivalries and feuds are essential to the story line, it encourages theatrical bitterness. Instead of pursuing a policy vision, the first calling of the celebrity is to maintain a brand.

Is the skill set of the celebrity suited to the reality of governing? On the evidence, not really. Our celebrity president, as on North Korea, is prone to take credit for nonexistent accomplishments. As on the border wall and the travel ban, he deals in absurd symbols rather than realistic policies. As on Russia policy, he is easily manipulated by praise. As on the revoking of former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance, he uses the power of his office to pursue personal vendettas. Instead of yelling at the television when people displease him, he now has the power to hurt them in practical ways.

When a real estate developer attacks an enemy in the tabloids, it is a public-relations spectacle. When the president of the United States targets and harms a citizen without due process, it is oppression.

But the broader influence of celebrity culture on politics is to transform citizens into spectators. In his book “How Democracy Ends,” David Runciman warns of a political system in which “the people are simply watching a performance in which their role is to give or withhold their applause at the appropriate moments.” In this case, democracy becomes “an elaborate show, needing ever more characterful performers to hold the public’s attention.” Mr. Madison, meet Omarosa.

Trump is sometimes called a populist. But all this is a far cry from the prairie populism of William Jennings Bryan, who sought to elevate the influence of common people. Instead, we are seeing a drama with one hero, pitted against an array of villains. And those villains are defined as anyone who opposes or obstructs the president, including the press, the courts and federal law enforcement. Trump’s stump speeches are not a call to arms against want; they are a call to oppose his enemies. This is not the agenda of a movement; it is the agenda of a cult.

Will the republic survive all this? Of course it will. But it won’t be the same.

Aretha Franklin, The ‘Queen Of Soul,’ Dies At 76 ~ Big Loss

Aretha Franklin, pictured in 1968, died Thursday. Known as the "Queen of Soul," she recorded 17 Top 10 singles.

Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” died Thursday in her home city of Detroit after battling pancreatic cancer. Her death was confirmed by her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn. She was 76.

Franklin sold more than 75 million records during her life, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time. She took soul to a new level and inspired generations of singers who came after her.

No one’s life can be condensed to one word — but Aretha Franklin came close when she sang one word: “respect.”

“Respect” was written by the great Otis Redding. In his version, a man is pleading, offering his woman anything she wants in exchange for her respect. He sang: “Hey little girl, you’re sweeter than honey / And I’m about to give you all of my money / But all I want you to do / Is just give it, give it / Respect when I come home …”

Aretha changed those lyrics to demand parity. “Oooh, your kisses,” she sang, “Sweeter than honey / And guess what? / So is my money …” In her hands, “Respect” became an empowering song — for black women and for all women. It was a No. 1 hit in 1967, and it became her signature song.

Franklin was 25 years old when “Respect” was released. But she had been singing since she was a small child in her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church.

“Someone found a footstool in the office and put it here on the stage, and they put it there for me to be seen because I was so small,” Franklin told NPR’s Morning Editionin 2004.

Aretha Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tenn. — but she was raised mostly in Detroit. Her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, was a famous preacher, and her childhood was steeped in both music and the burgeoning civil rights movement. Her family was close friends with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who often stayed at their home. Some of the most important gospel artists of the day came to visit regularly as well, including Clara Ward and the Famous Ward Singers, Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke.

It was Franklin’s father who introduced her to the recording industry. Nicknamed “the man with the million-dollar voice,” C.L. Franklin was among the first Christian ministers to record his sermons (making dozens for the JVB and Chess labels) and to do radio broadcasts of his Sunday addresses; his 1953 sermon “The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest” is part of the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

Franklin told PBS’s American Masters in 1988 that when she was a child, her father would coach her. “He would give me different records to listen to, to see if I could emulate them on the piano, different vocalists to listen to.” These were gospel artists like Ward and Jackson. But the young Aretha listened to popular music, too. And as she toured with her father she met R&B artists like Fats Domino and Bobby Bland.

There was also her Detroit neighborhood: It was filled with future Motown stars like Diana Ross, the Four Tops and Smokey Robinson, who grew up right around the corner from her.

Franklin made her first album for JVB when she was just 14 years old. It was a collection of gospel songs that included “Precious Lord (Take My Hand).”

Four years later, she confided to her father that she longed to cross over from gospel to secular music. So C.L. Franklin helped her make a demo that led to a contract with Columbia Records, initially working with the legendary producer John Hammond. Decades later, Hammond told NPR that when he first heard her, his response was, “‘This is the best thing I’ve heard since Billie Holiday. Who is she?”

In 1961, the bluesy “Won’t Be Long,” from her first Columbia album, Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo, became Franklin’s first song to reach the Billboard Hot 100.

After making seven records for Columbia over a six-year span, she signed with Atlantic Records — and that’s where she became the “Queen of Soul.”

At first, Atlantic wanted her to record at the Stax studios in Memphis, but Stax did not want to pay for the sessions. Instead, Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler took Franklin to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama.

The Wexler/Franklin pairing proved magical. Franklin brought her own material to the label, and Wexler encouraged her to play piano in her recording sessions. And from 1967 to the mid-’70s, Franklin released a string of classics. The first was “I Never Loved A Man” — with her sisters as backup singers — followed by “Do Right Woman — Do Right Man,” “Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools,” “Think,” “Rock Steady” and “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do).”

~~~  READ MORE ~ LISTEN  ~~~

Aretha Franklin: The ‘Fresh Air’ Interview

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Aretha Franklin, music’s ‘Queen of Soul,’ dies at 76

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 1.22.18 PM.pngOne of the most celebrated and influential singers in the history of American vernacular song, Aretha Franklin reserved her place on music’s Mount Rushmore in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her career spanned decades and was defined by such records as “Respect” and “Chain of Fools.”

Aretha Franklin, whose exceptionally expressive singing about joy and pain and faith and liberation earned the Detroit diva a permanent and undisputed title — the “Queen of Soul” — died Aug. 16 at her home in Detroit. She was 76.

Her representative Gwendolyn Quinn announced the death and said the cause was pancreatic cancer.

One of the most celebrated and influential singers in the history of American vernacular song, Ms. Franklin reserved her place on music’s Mount Rushmore in the late 1960s and early 1970s by exploring the secular sweet spot between sultry rhythm-and-blues and the explosive gospel music she’d grown up singing in her father’s Baptist church.

The result was potent and wildly popular, with defining soul anthems that turned Ms. Franklin into a symbol of black pride and women’s liberation.

Her calling card: “Respect,” the Otis Redding hit that became a crossover smash in 1967 after Ms. Franklin tweaked it just so (a “sock it to me” here, some sisterly vocal support there), transforming the tune into a fervent feminist anthem.

“Whenever women heard the record, it was like a tidal wave of sororal unity,” the song’s producer, Jerry Wexler, said two decades after Ms. Franklin first declared, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.”

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Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, Dead at 76

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It was a small moment that would reverberate for decades. On January 24th, 1967, Aretha Franklinwas struggling to record “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” her first project for Atlantic after several years recording more conventional material for Columbia. As Franklin would recall, something with the studio musicians wasn’t clicking until someone said, “Aretha, why don’t you sit down and play?” Taking a seat at the piano, Franklin quickly cut the smoldering track that would become her first No. 1 R&B hit. “It just happened,” she said. “We arrived, and we arrived very quickly.”

And it never stopped. For more than five decades, Franklin was a singular presence in pop music, a symbol of strength, women’s liberation and the civil rights movement. Franklin, one of the greatest singers of all time, died Thursday of pancreatic cancer, according to her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn.

“It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul,” Quinn said in a statement. “Franklin … passed away on Thursday morning, August 16 at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit, MI, surrounded by family and loved ones. In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.

“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world,” Quinn added. “Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

“Aretha Franklin was one of the most iconic voices in music history and a brilliant artist,” Franklin’s record label Sony Music said in a statement. “Over the course of her decades-long career, which included many years with the Sony Music family, she inspired countless musicians and fans, and created a legacy that paved the way for a long line of strong female artists.”

Dubbed the Queen of Soul in 1967, Franklin loomed over culture in several monumental ways. The daughter of a preacher man, she was born with one of pop’s most commanding and singular voices, one that could move from a sly, seductive purr to a commanding gospel roar. From early hits like “I Never Loved a Man” and “Think” up through later touchstones like “Sisters Are Doin’ it for Themselves” with Eurythmics, there was no mistaking Franklin’s colossal pipes. As one of her leading producers, Jerry Wexler, said of her simmering gospel-pop classic, “Spirit in the Dark,” “It was one of those perfect R&B blends of the sacred and the secular … It’s Aretha conducting church right in the middle of a smoky nightclub. It’s everything to everyone.”

Her journey — from singing in her father’s church and tackling tasteful pop at the dawn of her career before becoming the voice of the civil rights movement — also embodied the African American experience of the 1960s. Her brawny, funked-up makeover of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” based on what Wexler called her own “stop-and-stutter syncopation” idea, was more than just a Number One pop hit in 1967. “She had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African Americans and women and anyone else who felt marginalized because of what they looked like, who they loved,” Barack Obama said in 2014. “They wanted some respect.” At 16, she went on tour with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and later sang at his funeral.

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