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Pondering popular muscial Queens and Kings

Mark K. Campbell
Wednesday, September 5, 2018


I really liked Aretha Franklin.

When a drunk driver hit the Bride and me as we came back from an Azle playoff basketball game on Feb. 27, 2004, our truck was destroyed as we rolled 243 feet.

The next day, we ventured back to the Denton area where Cletus – our trusty, now totalled, Ford pickup – has been towed. In tow with me was a long screwdriver.

That’s because the CD in the truck’s damaged player contained The Very Best of Aretha Franklin.

We lost our high-dollar camera in the wreck, but I was determined to save that Aretha CD and did.

As you can imagine, there were some great songs on that disc, including my personal favorites “Baby I Love You” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” which I still sing in the shower too often which concerns the Bride in our current gender-questioning atmosphere.

For all her hits – Aretha placed 73 songs in the hot 100, including 17 that made the top 10 – her most successful non-greatest hits album was a live gospel LP, Amazing Grace, in 1972.

She was a lot like Elvis Presley.

Both were “royalty.” Aretha the Queen of Soul and Elvis the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Both mostly recorded songs written by others.

Aretha had top 40 hits with such modern pop standards as “The Weight” (No. 19 in 1969, made famous by The Band – on Aretha’s version, Duane Allman played the slide guitar); the Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” (No. 17 the same year); and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” (No. 6, in ‘70) to name a few.

(She also released a version of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”!)

Elvis’ releases were written by a wide array of talents like Paul Anka (“My Way”), James Taylor (“Steamroller Blues”), and Mac Davis (“In the Ghetto”).

Another similarity between the two was that Aretha and Elvis never forgot their church upbringings.

Aside from her biggest-selling album being a gospel LP, Aretha released some religious singles through the years, including “Oh, Happy Day,” but none made the top 40. (Topping The Edwin Hawkins Singers’ version in 1967 would require a miracle.)

Elvis occasionally released a gospel single, too; his “How Great Thou Art” made it to No. 101.

Both artists had long careers but were especially productive in specific periods.

Of course, Elvis changed the world from “Don’t Be Cruel”/”Hound Dog” in 1955 through “Good Luck Charm” in 1961. (Naturally, he had many more hits, but he was untouchable for a while there.)

Aretha crashed the charts in 1967 with “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” and, before the end of ‘68, had added 12 more Hot 100 records. (The only non-charter? “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”)

That span included “Respect,” “Baby I Love You,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “Chain of Fools” – all in a row. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” killed the streak (but it reached No. 27 in the U.K.)

So the Queen of Soul and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll have joined the King of Pop (Michael Jackson) in the Great Beyond.

But they all left us some great music.