Photo: Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer (Getty)
The Queen of Soul may be gone, but there’s no question that her music will live on.
Aretha Franklin died at the age of 76 from a long battle with cancer this past Thursday, August 16. She left an undeniable imprint on popular music for generations, no matter the age, race or gender.
Following her passing, USA TODAY noted that Franklin’s music spiked to number one on the charts, bumping Nicki Minaj (a feat unto itself). And her catalog has been played 5,500 percent more times across the globe than at this time last week on Spotify, so it goes when a music legend leaves this world.
You may know her music by the timeless classics, but below are five essential Queen of Soul tunes everyone needs to own, preferably on vinyl.
Probably her most famous hit, this song has been used in more films than Kevin Bacon. It was originally released by Otis Redding in 1965, but Franklin’s cover was a smash number one hit in 1967.
“Climbing Higher Mountains”
Franklin had dozens of radio hits, sure. But many don’t realize that her best-selling album came via the gospel route in 1972 with Amazing Grace. It was recorded live with Rev. James Cleveland at an L.A. church and continues to be a spiritual power ballad for those looking to climb their own proverbial mountain.
“Chain Of Fools”
Another song released in 1967, another song meant for Otis Redding, songwriter Don Covay gave this all-timer to Franklin. The results obviously didn’t disappoint. It went straight to number one and earned multiple Grammys.
“I Say A Little Prayer”
A 1968 B-side track, I Say A Little Prayer was co-written by Burt Bacharach for Dionne Warwick, a song about a woman’s concern regarding her man leaving for Vietnam. The original was a hit. But Franklin’s version also went top 10, and ended up being her all-time biggest hit in the U.K.
If this jam doesn’t have you screaming “Freedom!” you don’t have a pulse. This 1968 feminist anthem was one of the greatest songs of the 60s, and Franklin co-wrote it with her husband.
Rest in peace, Miss Aretha. And thank you for your timeless contributions to music.
Josh Helmuth is a sports reporter in St. Louis who contributes to Mandatory.