Thinking of Aretha


Thinking of Aretha

by Bob Herbert

Nineteen sixty-seven was a tough year in many respects — riots, protests, an unwinnable war — but I can’t think of it without thinking of the glory of Aretha Franklin, a woman in her mid-20s, introverted and somewhat shy, who sang soul and rock ’n’ roll with the power and beauty of a heavenly choir.

Newark and Detroit went up in flames in 1967, and neither city was ever to recover. Muhammad Ali, a perfect physical specimen in his absolute athletic prime, was convicted of dodging the draft and stripped of his world heavyweight championship. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. endured a hurricane of criticism when he came out publicly against the war in Vietnam and called the United States government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

If you were lucky, you could close the door on the din, at least for a little while, and reach for the record album with the head and shoulder shot of Aretha positioned at a precarious angle on the cover. The album was called “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You,” and if you listened closely, if you paid attention, it would just thrill you, take you to a place of exquisite human feeling. A region of laughter and tears. Of love and joyous possibilities.

Continue reading @ The New York Times

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About jennifer williams

Jennifer D. Williams is a writer and professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies. She has published in academic journals and online at Ms.blog, PopMatters, among other sites. Jennifer is currently working on a book that looks at black women's urban literature between the Depression and the civil rights era.

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