Respect

Otis Redding, 1965

What words would you use to describe the mood of this song? What emotion is Aretha Franklin expressing?

What do you think she means by "all I want is a little respect"? Who is she talking to? Why do you think she isn't feeling respected? How do you think she wants her husband/boyfriend to show her respect?

What does "respect" mean? Is it about attitudes or actions? Why? What happens if you have one without the other?

A lot of people adopted this song to express their feelings. How do you think it came to mean more than just respect between two people? Who in 1967 might identify with this song? African Americans, youth, and women were among those who adopted it.

What were they asking for as a sign of respect? Discuss the difference between these signs of respect: for example women having doors opened for them, or the opportunity to be hired for certain jobs. What did these groups do to try to get respect? How well did these strategies work?

Why is respect so important? How can you tell when someone respects you? How do you feel when someone respects you? How do you feel when they don't?

What can you do to act respectfully to other people? Does everyone deserve respect or do people have to earn it? How is respect that is owed different from respect that is earned?

"Respect" performed by Aretha Franklin on I Never Loved a Man The Way I Love You. Atlantic Records, © 1967. Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

 

You can also listen to Otis Redding singing his song on Spotify.

 

You can learn more about Aretha Franklin on her official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult this online source:

https://genius.com/Aretha-franklin-respect-lyrics

Otis Redding (1941–67), one of the most popular Black entertainers of mid-1960s Memphis soul, composed this song in 1965. The song stems from a conversation he had with his drummer, Al Jackson. After he complained about his career and its difficulties, Jackson said to him, “What are you griping about, you’re on the road all the time. All you can look for is a little respect when you come home”(Bego, p. 96).

Respect 45
The 45 rpm album for Aretha Franklin's recording of "Respect."

Although Redding’s recording reached the British Top Ten, it was Aretha Franklin’s 1967 rendition that made the song popular among American audiences. Franklin and her back-up singers sang in a strong and raw style, making the most of their gospel backgrounds. This style of singing is what characterized soul, in contrast to the sweeter style of Motown. In “Respect,” Aretha and her sister Carolyn added the repeated line “sock it to me,” which instantly entered the vernacular and became a mainstay of the TV show Laugh In. “Respect” became a universal song, applicable to feminists, minorities, and anyone who could apply it to their own situation.

Compare this song to:

"Wives and Lovers" (this unit)